By ZBC Reporter
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage says it has put in place measures to clear a backlog in passport processing dating back to March 2019.
In response to the Portfolio Committee on Defence,Home Affairs and Security Services on policy decisions being taken to reduce the backlog on the provision of primary identity documents and travel documents Minister Kazembe said the 225 747 passport backlog has been accumulating due to lack of foreign currency.
Honourable Members, coming to Passports production, my Ministry is currently experiencing a backlog in the processing of passports. Currently we have a backlog of 225 747, dating back to March 2019. The backlog has been accumulating due to shortage of consumables which require foreign currency,he said.
As a means to counter the dire situation ,the Minister outlined a number of measures including an increase in operating hours.
To address the situation, my Ministry has put in place the following measures:- Introduction of Double Shift Working Programme with effect from 26 April 2021. The programme consists of the day and night shift.The night shift operates from 2000hrs to 0400hrs whilst the day shift operates from 0800hrs to 1600hrs. The strategy is aimed at clearing the passport backlog,he explained.
According to Minister Kazembe the move will facilitate an increase in the number of passports produced per day.
With the introduction of the double shift working programme, My Ministry will be in a position to produce between 4 000 and 4 500 passports a day. The expected daily output for the day shift will be between 2 000 and 2 500 whilst the expected output for the night shift will be 2 000,added Kazembe.
He also cited the procurement of equipment as key in clearing the current backlog.
Treasury made a commitment to avail funds for the procurement of additional equipment to complement the existing machinery. Procurement of additional equipment and consumables will increase the production capacity from 4 500 to 9 000 thereby reducing the turn-around time for the clearance of the backlog. These measures will see the Ministry being able to meet the current demand for passports while ensuring that the backlog does not occur,he noted.
Th Ministry through the Civil Registry Department is also limiting the number of applicants for polythene-synthetic IDs and priority is being given to high school students and urgent cases.
The development has thus seen treasury committing to facilitating payment for consumables, licences and dongles in order to address the situation as soon as possible.