The failure by Immigration Department to print passport application forms has forced some unscrupulous traders to turn on the luck and start selling the free forms on black market with each copy costing K500, Nyasa Times has established.
The department of Immigration, which falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security, has for the past week been failing to print the application forms, which are distributed free of charge, due to what is said technical fault on its printing machines.
Hundreds of people who travel as far as Mangochi district have been failing to access the forms and the only solution is to pay extra K500 just to obtain one on the black market.
Nyasa Times visit at Immigration Headquarters office in the city of Blantyre, found scores of people trying to access the application forms, but the only answer they could get from the officers remains the same “Sorry we are unable to provide any forms”.
The department’s spokesperson, Martin Gongolo was reportedly out of office attending the burial ceremony of the former Chief Immigration officer, David Kambilonje who died on early hours of Monday due to blood pressure.
But one of the officers at the passport-issuing center disclosed that the problem resulted from the department’s failure to buy ink for its printers.
“There are some printers which have developed faults yes, but the main reason is that we are unable to print the forms because we have run out of printing ink, and I understand the department is failing to procure it because it’s expensive, and due to complicated internal procurement protocol ,” said the officer.
In an interview one of the people seeking to apply for a passport, Diverson Kachingwe who has traveled all the way from Mwanza lamented the negligence by the department to work out on its printing problems.
“The negligence by the officers to provide us with free forms is fueling corruption because some people are forced to pay some officers just to be given the free forms and others are buying it at the black market. The question is how these people manage to get the forms to sell to us?” wondered Kachingwe.
Last month, people had to spend days at the department just to access their passports after the office has run out of copies, which are imported from UK.