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Immigration Department rations passports

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The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services is rationing issuance of passports to citizens, a development attributed to the shortage of consumables.

Acting Regional Immigration Officer for the Central Region Chrissie Gumbo told Homeland Security Minister Jean Sendeza, who visited the regional offices on Friday, that, sometimes, they run out of consumables.

“In such cases, officers try their best to deliver services to those that are in dire need, including those that require emergency travel.

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“It can happen that we have dry spells and we would fail to assist those in crucial need. That is why we ration. There are times we print 70, sometimes 80, and on other days up to 100 passports [a day]. We make sure that we give out to those who have emergency trips because there are others who apply as a normal requirement with no emergency. We do not prioritise those in the wake of the challenges that we have,” Gumbo said.

Immigration Department Commissioner responsible for Administration Stenleck Kalimanjira said the regional office receives about 500 passport applications in a day.

He attributed some of the hiccups being experienced to the cancellation of the contract the department, through the government, had with Technobrain, a firm which was contracted to upgrade the passport issuance system.

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Kalimanjira also acknowledged there was rationing in the issuance of passports.

In 2019, Technobrain and the government entered into a $60 million (K48 billion at current exchange rate) contract, which Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda terminated on the ground that it was too expensive.

National spokesperson for the department Pasqually Zulu said there are over 4,000 passport applications on a daily basis across Malawi.

Speaking after the tour of duty, which also took her to the National Registration Bureau Area 3 office, Sendeza said she was concerned with reports of inefficiency at the two departments.

At NRB, she interacted with clients, who lamented delays to issue them with national documents.

“These are poor Malawians who come from far places to seek services. It is not right that they do not get documents in time because they incur costs in the process,” she said.

On Thursday, Sendeza also inspected Lilongwe-based centres that are taking part in the mass child registration exercise which ended on Friday. It is expected that the government will record about 600,000 children.

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