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Immigration clashes with photographers

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The Department of Immigration Services in the Central Region has started taking passport pictures on its own, a development which has not gone down well with photographers who used to do so for a living.

Immigration Central Region Public Relations Officer, Ealack Banda, told The Daily Times that his office has started taking pictures inside the department offices and that the department is no longer accepting passport photos from outside.

“We have done this to get rid of middlemen. For a long time, people have cried foul after money was stolen from them because they met someone when taking passport pictures outside and stole from them while pretending to be an immigration officer,” he said.

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He further said the middlemen who shelter in places where passport pictures are taken have also been giving passport seekers wrong information and advising them to change their place of origin.

“It has been a problem for us to chase the people who take passport photos away because they are not in our jurisdiction, hence coming up with the idea of us taking our own passport pictures and not accepting pictures from outside. This way, passport seekers will not be duped,” he added.

But chairperson for the photographers at the Lilongwe Immigration Office, Assapher Stone, described the move as killing their business and also killing the spirit of entrepreneurship in the country.

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“Our families depend on this business for survival, hence this development has greatly affected us. In Malawi, jobs are scarce, so most of us depend on this business for income, hence we are appealing to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security to help us and reverse this decision,” Stone said.

He claimed that the money the immigration is collecting from the passports is not going to Account Number One because the receipts show that the money is for general welfare fund and the amount is K1,000.

However, one of the passport seekers, Happiness Liwonga, said this is a welcome development because the department is offering lower prices than the middlemen.

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