THE Ministry of Home Affairs’ National Identity and Civil Registry (NICR) department has opened new offices at Maseru Mall to reduce congestion at its Post Office building headquarters.
Speaking during a press briefing to announce the development on Monday, Ministry of Home Affairs Principal Secretary, Advocate Borenahabokhethe Sekonyela, said NICR was beset with a huge backlog of birth certificate and national identity (ID) applications in Maseru.
He said the backlog was more acute in Maseru since the district had the highest population in the country. As a result, Advocate Sekonyela said, many Basotho had endured standing in long queues at the Post Office building to get the essential documents.
He said NICR officials would work longer hours at the new offices, which will be open every day and even on public holidays.
“We will work flexible hours at the new offices unlike at the Post Office building where we were open from 8am to 5pm,” said Advocate Sekonyela.
“At our Maseru Mall offices, we will be open from 8am to 7pm on weekdays, while on weekends and holidays we will operate from 9am to 5pm.”
He said the extra hours were meant to accommodate people who worked long hours such as factory workers and Basotho residing in South Africa who were only free on weekends and holidays.
Home Affairs Minister, Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane, chipped in saying the mall was a less stressful place to queue especially with the current chilly weather conditions.
“The new offices are more pleasant, especially in this cold weather where it can rain at any time, leaving people at the mercy of the elements,” he said.
The Maseru Mall offices, the minister said, would only provide birth certificates, while ID applications would continue to be made at the Post Office building. He said senior citizens could continue applying for birth certificates at the Post Office building offices to reduce the number of applicants at the mall.
Advocate Rakuoane added that the ministry would soon decentralise the birth certificate and ID registry process to the districts to reduce congestion.