A section of Ghanaians have appealed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and the Passport Office to ensure that passports are printed and distributed promptly.
Though the time for receiving one’s passport after successful application is between six and 12 weeks for regular service and a maximum of four weeks for premium service, many people were yet to receive their booklets, with a backlog as far back as four to eight months.
Presently, the Passport Office is trying to clear a backlog of applications received for the issuance of passports, the only approved document for travelling abroad.
The situation has been persistent since last year, with the confirmation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration that there were over 9,000 applications outstanding.
That has encouraged the operations of middlemen, also known as ‘goro boys’, who charge as much as four times the normal prices, to help desperate applicants.
Fees, paying more
The standard application and premium service fees are pegged at GH¢100 and GH¢200, respectively.
However, the “goro” boys charge between GH¢800 and GH¢2,000 for expedited service.
A number of passport applicants interviewed in Accra by the Daily Graphic over expressed their willingness to pay higher approved charges to acquire a Ghanaian passport within a reasonably shorter time.
Some, however, said although they were ready to pay more for timely service, they did not trust that it could lead to the delivery of passports on schedule because some people would still find ways of cutting corners for their personal benefits.
The mistrust, they said, was born out of the frustrations and stress they had endured in the effort to acquire a passport.
They also believed the challenge, though genuine, was also being exploited since middlemen, referred to as ‘goro boys’, were having a field day as some people, in desperation to get their passports to meet travelling deadlines, were compelled to pay more, oftentimes, illegally.