Passport office cuts backlog

MASERU — The Assistant Minister of Home Affairs and Public Safety Lineo Molise-Mabusela says the government has produced nearly 90 000 passports over the past three months.

Molise-Mabusela told a press conference on Tuesday that the battle to reduce the passport backlog is on course.

Since June her ministry has been under serious pressure to improve efficiency at the Passport Services Department which has been rocked by allegations of corruption and indolence.

There are nearly 200 000 people waiting for their passports.

Some have been waiting for the past three years.

Others have resorted to paying hefty bribes to syndicates in the passport offices to get their passports processed quickly.

Molise-Mabusela said there has been a marked improvement in the operations of the department.

She said since June the department has produced 89 831 passports but the collection has been a bit slow.

She said between June and July 23 000 passports were delivered to community councils and police stations in Maseru district but only 2 819 had been collected so far.

In Leribe 10 778 passports were delivered and 9 047 were collected.

In Berea 8 057 were delivered with 3 453 passports being collected.

Molise-Mabusela also revealed that people can now collect their passports from their village community offices.

The new collection system, Molise-Mabusela says, means that people will not need to throng the passport office in Maseru and other centres to collect their travel documents.

When a passport is processed the Passport Service Department will inform the district administration office which will in turn inform village chiefs.

The chief will then inform the passport applicants.

The department will transfer the passport to the applicant’s nearest community office from which they can collect it.

She said government had approved the new system after a pilot programme in Mafeteng, Maseru, Leribe and Berea district.

She said to enhance the speedy production and distribution of passports, the travel documents will be distributed to community councils and people will be notified through their village chiefs.

“Once the production of the passports is over our officers will group them by the villages of the seekers (applicants),” Molise-Mabusela said

“Then a list of the released passports will be sent to the chiefs. A date will be set for all the people to collect their passports from the community councils,” she said.

“There will be members of the police force to ensure security.”

 Molise-Mabusela said to curb corruption and multiple applications passport seekers will be asked to redeposit the receipts they acquire when they pay the application fee.

“We are still working hard to curb corruption at passport offices.”

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