Thousands of Malawians are failing to obtain passports at the Immigration Department following the shortage of passport booklets that has hit the government facility, an inside source has revealed.
The source said the shortage came about after hundreds of passport booklets were soaked in water when a tap was one night accidentally left open after water stopped running. But the water started the same night resulting to the incident.
“We are facing a serious shortage of passport booklets in the department and scores of people are failing to have their passports collected,” said the source.
A visit by Nyasa Times to the Immigration Offices Headquarters in Blantyre witnessed scores of passport applicants who had thronged the department just loitering in a frustrated manner.
Reports indicate for the past four weeks, the head office has experienced low turn-out of applicants after news of shortage of booklets started making rounds.
According to our source, the problem started in Lilongwe and some applicants there are now being referred to the head office in Blantyre.
A number of applicants who pleaded for anonymity for fear of repercussions told Nyasa Times in separate interviews that they were not sure when they would get their passports as they saw no light at the end of the tunnel soon.
“I was referred here from Lilongwe where the shortage of booklets started. But I am now getting worried because every day l make an inquiry I am being told the problem will continue,” said one applicant.
Another applicant from Mangochi District said he had been coming to check for his 21-day passport which he paid for two months ago but all he gets are stories.
“What I am told is that I should just keep on waiting,” said the visibly annoyed young man.
He complained that the frequent travels have now exhausted his energies considering that he has to spend money on transport to and from his home and also needs to buy food, among others.
Another angry applicant said she had since missed her business opportunities in Botswana because her passport that she was renewing was getting ages than the 21 days she applied for.
“I am a business lady and I needed to renew my passport but the processes are taking forever.
“I clinched businesses deals in Botswana some of which I already collected money from and I feel I have betrayed my clients because the festive season is already here and I have failed to honour my promise,” she lamented.
But contacted for their side Immigration Department authorities have feigned ignorance on the development.
Immigration’s Public Relations Officer, Martha Gonondo, while asking for more time to consult before giving feedback, said she was not aware about the booklet shortage.
“I am not aware that there is that problem in the department. But let me make proper consultations to come up with a proper feedback,” she said.
The Immigration Department, which has the capacity of producing 500 passports a day has been rationing issuance of the important document for some time due to lack of capacity and shortage of materials leading to congestion at its three passport offices in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :