Irate applicants complain of long wait times
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Police officers were summoned to the Passport Office on John F. Kennedy Drive on Tuesday, in an effort to quell the chaos that had erupted after scores of applicants flooded the property – some as early as 4:00 a.m. – with the hope of getting their documents processed in a timely manner.
Irate applicants expressed yesterday that while it is not unusual for the passport office to come under heavy criticism during the peak period, it appears as if wait times are getting longer.
“Only in The Bahamas, why do we have a bad name here in The Bahamas,” an irate applicant asked. “Anything that deals with government is chaotic. Could you imagine this is my second trip here to the passport office and I haven’t stepped my foot in the door yet to put my passport in, and I’m travelling in April. This is ridiculous.”
Another applicant said, “Three o’clock in the morning they telling me to be here in order to get served. There is no system. This is the 21st century. Come on, Bahamas. Government do something about this, this is ridiculous.”
A third applicant expressed that the passport office obviously doesn’t have sufficient resources on the inside, claiming that there was a quota in place when it came to how many persons they would process daily.
“Persons who are hoping to be seen today said that they have been here from 2:30 a.m., so they can have a hope of getting in,” the applicant said.
Meanwhile Chief Passport Officer, Siobhan Deane yesterday shot down claims that the agency turned away patrons after meeting its alleged quota.
She said the long wait times are partly due to applicants being ill prepared.
“No one was turned away,” Deane said.
“Persons come to the passport office early because they want to come early. Our operating hours are from 8 until 5 and so I can only assume persons come at that time because they want to be here and they want to be first on the line.
“We don’t have a quota system.
“We try to take as many persons as possible but the public has to realize [that there are] in-house things that we need to take care of and so we have to cut off by a certain point in order to take care of those matters.”
Deane said yesterday, the passport office had a full team present at 7:00 a.m. and while they wanted to start processing applicants, they did not get the full cooperation of the public.
“We asked persons to act civilized when they come, to have their documents out, and to ensure their documents are all in order because when you come in and you have your documents in your bag and you get to the window, that’s about two minutes wasted, which is a setback in the processing of your documents in the enrollment process,” Deane explained.
She noted, however, that change is coming.
According to the Chief Passport Officer, they are presently in the process of testing its online application system. She said they are now in the process of reviewing the brochure and updating the information that is contained in it.
“What most persons have to know is that we are no longer accepting the manual birth certificate. You must go to the Registrar General’s Office and apply and get the electronic copy of your birth certificate and your marriage certificate.”
Deane said in the instance of persons who do not have a birth certificate, an affidavit must be recorded with the Registrar General’s Office.
Nonetheless, Deane maintains that the public administrative challenges that plague this office will continue until the agency expands to accommodate the high volume of persons that require their services daily
This article was written by Matthew Moxey – Eyewitness News Online – Intern