Gwanda passport issuance improved

GOVERNMENT is making progress in meeting its drive to establish electronic (e) passport centres in all districts in the country following the successful introduction of the system in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province.

Residents from Gwanda and surrounding areas have been enjoying improved passport issuance services for about a month now.

The establishment of the Gwanda e-passport centre began in mid-April, and two months later the facility was operational.

This has also led to the rehabilitation of the Matabeleland South provincial registry department offices.

President Mnangagwa first launched the new secure electronic passport in Harare and Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in Africa producing e-passports. The ultimate goal is to have an e-passport facility in each of the country’s 59 districts. This is in line with the global shift towards biometric data-based identity and travel documents.

At the moment e-passports are issued in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Hwange, Lupane, Beitbridge and Murehwa among other areas.

A Chronicle news crew visited the e-passport centre in Gwanda where citizens expressed satisfaction over its effectiveness.

Ms Mpotseng Ndlovu from Mawane 2 Village in Gwanda said she did not need to arrive early in the morning as was the case in the past.

“I arrived at the passport office at around 9AM and there were a handful of people in front of me. I didn’t wait for long and I proceeded to the reception for checking of my papers,” she said.

“I went to the bank section for payment and then I went to fill the forms and to the pictures section. Before long I was done.

“We no longer have to go through that cumbersome process that used to require us to queue for the whole day. It’s also a huge relief because everything is now being done in one building.

“We no longer have to go out for pictures. They told me that my passport will be ready for collection after seven working days and from what I’ve heard it really comes out after those seven days,” she said.

Mr Nikson Chindimba from West Nicholson said he applied for his e-passport end of last month and on the seventh day he received a text message alerting him that it was ready for collection. He said when he applied it took him an hour and thirty minutes to complete the entire process.

Mr Chindimba said on collection he just took a few minutes. He said it was pleasing to see the country adopting new technologies that were improving service delivery.

“In the past, we knew that applying, and collecting a passport meant that you had to wake up early in the morning to queue and sometimes you were disappointed,” he said.

Mr Chindimba said after applying it used to take very long for the passport to be produced hence people are very happy now because the system is very fast.

“It’s our right to be in possession of a passport and I’m glad that we no longer have to wait long to get it,” he said.

The e-passport was launched after Government entered into a partnership with a Lithuanian company, Garsu Pasaulis, on a build, own, operate and transfer basis to produce new passports that meet modern international standards. The adoption of the e-passport will see the country also dealing with the passport backlog that had ballooned in the past few years.

Under the partnership, the Lithuanian partner will refurbish provincial and district registry offices and provide material to produce IDs. An e-passport contains an electronic chip, which holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page, which include the holder’s name, date of birth, and other biographic information.

The document also contains a biometric identifier. All of these features are designed to protect citizens from identity theft.

E-passports also allow for faster passage through border.


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