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29.03.2019 Feature Article

Passport Office Must Sit Up

Passport Office Must Sit Up

It isn't their noisy neighbours that are frustrating them. Rather it's Passport Office that's driving them (applicants) crazy lately.

What's going on?

The Office has been misspelling applicants' names in their passports. On top of that, they've wrongly been changing some applicants' dates of birth.

In one classic case, an applicant who was born on September 2003, had it changed to September 2018.

According to one of the applicants, this is just a tip of the iceberg. Yeboah (using only his last name), says he had his name mispelt like this--(Yeboa) without the 'h'.

Also guilty of this 'crime' is Birth & Death Registry. TIhe registry like the Passport Office is alleged to be swapping gender or sex..

A female applicant had her sex changed to male.

It's this, that's driving them crazy. It's this, that's attracting their anger and dissatisfaction.

And it's this, that's making some of them go bananas.

How serious is this issue?

So far, per the complaints received, including what I've also experienced, I think it would be fair to describe it as serious.

Perhaps one wouldn't know how serious it is, until it hits one's rooftop. Also, I don't think the issue has caught the media attention yet, probably because it's at its elementary stage.

Nonetheless, I think I it's worth shinning light on it now.

Question is:

How many of us have probably bothered to double check, if our names in the birth certificates and the passports are correctly spelt?

Beside, how many of us have cared to shed light on this? We probably haven't given that a thought or perhaps not even noticed it yet.

Maybe, we thought it's insignificant or a minor problem. Or maybe we shrugged it off as some of us usually do. Uh, no one would notice this.

In fact, until it happened to my own family yesterday, I didn't consider it an issue that's worrying many applicants. In my case, all four applicants but one had no mistakes in her passport. Two of the applicants are (at school) outside Accra. Both together with the third applicant will have to swear affidavit in order to get the problem fixed, which implies that they must be at the Office in person not by proxy.

You see the frustration!

Roughly a month ago, a close friend of mine also experienced similar situation. It's like a creepy bug biting innocent applicants one by one.

Matter of fact I didn't even know there are many applicants out there that have been screwed up literally.

"These mistakes are unpardonable.

And Passport Office must sit up.It's their recurrence that's driving me and other applicants crazy," says Mr. Victor K. Adusei.

"You know it takes one an awful time to wait for one's passport and when it finally shows up one has to deal with yet, another problem," he added.

So how can this issue be dealt with?

I think the Office will need binoculars and telescopes to help stop the recurring mistakes.

Sounds funny, but that's for real.

Seriously, staff at the Office need to pay attention to details. And I think it's about time they employed the Eagle's eyes-- this would significantly help minimise the anomaly.

Beside, I think the Office has in its custody applicants' birth certificates and other important documents to cross check if in doubt.

Furthermore, they shouldn't assume that if names sound the same they're spelt the same. It's wrong assumption.It doesn't go like that..not in this day and age when people are increasingly conjugating names.

It may sound ridulous, but the fact remains that people are more than ever Europeanising, Americanizing and Africanising their names.

You may think they've sniffed something that's triggering the crave.

For instance, this is how some people spell their Kwasi or Kwesi-'Qwesi' or 'Qweci'.

Can you imagine that? I know you're used to the good old Kwasi in Twi or Kwesi in Fante, but don't be fooled. Cities are getting smarter now, companies and countries are also rebranding and people are fast conjugating their names. Oh, I nearly this one- Kwame, now anglised--Quame.

Please take note of the following names too. Catherine and Kathryn. Richard and Richeed. Ann and Anne. Jon and John.Meghan and Megan. Melanie and Melonie. See, they sound the same but their spellings are totally different.

Check out these Ghanaian Akan names too: Kwaku, Kweku, Kwasi, Kwesi, Akwasi etc.

I can cite thousand examples.

Indeed my checks have revealed that a considerable number of applicants have had their names butchered. In other words, mis spelt and they're upset about the way the Office has handled their respective applications.

Yes, we all know about the long wait that hitherto wrought the office. But I must point out that there's been significant improvement on that aspect.

What's the wait time for a passport in Ghana?

It used to take some prospective applicants 1-5 years to get their passports.

It seems that hussle is gone as I already indicated. In addition, the Middle men also known 'as Goro Boys' is somewhat eliminated.

Good thing is, you can now obtain your passport online. This is a huge leap, I think.

The standard timeline for receiving a Ghanaian passport is 30 days from the date of submitting the application.

However, many would tell you, that timeline is nothing but a facade. Actually, the current wait time for a passport in Ghana, routine service takes 4-6 weeks to complete, according to the Office.

"If you apply in early February you have your new passport by mid March," it says.

That's what it says on paper but many applicants that submitted their applications around January this year are either still waiting or have received them but with lot of mistakes.

So, this far exceeds the normal routine service time period the Office says. I submitted my children's applications in mid January.

And I received all three yesterday albeit riddled with mistakes--- misspelling of names and date of birth changed.

What's today's date?

Well we're just two days away from April.

Why the delay?

The Office explains it'd shortage of books.

Ghana passports are exclusively issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Regional Integration to Ghanaians granted citizenship in accordance with the Ghanaian nationality law.

Gordon Offin-Amaniampong
Gordon Offin-Amaniampong, © 2019

This author has authored 284 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: GordonOffinAmaniampong

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