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Immigration clears passport backlog

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BEARER OF GOOD NEWS—Chiponde

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services today resumes passport printing at the normal scale to clear a backlog of unprocessed applications.

The department’s spokesperson Wellington Chiponde said this is the case after they received passport production consumables for the exercise.

Chiponde said this is the consignment they were supposed to receive from Techno Brain before their contract was cancelled.

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While indicating that the move would go a long way in clearing the backlog, Chiponde dismissed fears that hiccups would soon resurface when the consumables run out, with no new contactor in sight.

“What we are doing is to intensify efforts to find the contractor even before these consumables are finished. As such, we hope that there will not be a time when we will downsize and ration passport printing again,” he said.

For months, the department has been rationing passport printing, preferring the sick that need external referrals and very very important persons to others.

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Following the resumption of normal passport printing, the department says people who applied for the passports between December 2021 and January 2022 will be able to collect their passports in all printing centres of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Mangochi.

Chiponde could not specifically disclose the number of passports that would be printed with the consumables they have received but said they were enough for the booklets they have.

As the passport printing woes got worse, the department stopped printing passports at its Mzuzu and Lilongwe offices and stopped receiving new applications.

In the absence of the passports, the department was issuing a Certificate of Identification (CoI) which is an emergency travel document.

However, the problem with CoI is that it is accepted in a few countries of Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Uganda. South Africa and the rest of the world do not recognise them.

On March 10 this year, members of Parliament Werani Chilenga of Chitipa South and Noel Lipipa of Blantyre City South queried Homeland Security Minister Jean Sendeza on the matter in Parliament.

They demanded answers to what was happening at the department.

Sendeza indicated that the problem would be addressed before this month end.

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