THE Registrar General’s (RG’s) Office in Bulawayo has said citizens who applied for passports before end of February 2019 should collect their travelling documents as they are now ready.
The Registrar General’s Office has been battling with a passport backlog which had reached 200 000.
The department has been using the lockdown period to clear the passport backlog while only processing travel documents for diaspora-based citizens who want to regularise their stay in foreign land.
Following the Covid-19-induced lockdown last year, the RG’s Office has only been processing emergency documents for members of the public.
At the beginning of this month, President Mnangagwa relaxed lockdown regulations, allowing members of the public to travel without exemption letters.
This has seen scores of people visiting the Bulawayo Passport Offices inquiring about travel documents.
Also touts operating outside the passport offices have resurfaced. Authorities have warned the public against engaging touts as they do not represent the registrar’s department.
Bulawayo Provincial Registrar Mrs Jane Peters yesterday said while the registry has started serving clients, it was only attending to a limited number of people in line with Government’s Covid-19 containment measures.
She said the RG’s Office has, however, managed to reduce the passport backlog.
“We now have passports for those people who applied for travel documents up to end of February 2019. Members of the public who applied for passports before the said period should come and collect their documents. We are now having a filing challenge because of these uncollected passports,” she said.
Mrs Peters said so far, the registry was attending to clients who had booked their applications before Government imposed strict lockdown measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 in January.
“From the 4 to 18 January we already had bookings so within this period we are trying to clear those bookings before we could accept new people that are coming in. At the moment we are dealing with external applications and we are handling a very limited number of applications,” she said.
“The demand is high for our services but due to Covid-19 containment measures we are constrained. We can’t attend to all the people that need the service. We are attending to a specific number of applicants per day.”
Mrs Peters warned members of the public against entertaining touts operating outside the registry’s office saying they risk being conned.
The touts menace outside Passport Offices has resulted police being deployed to protect passport seekers.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe recently told legislators that the RG’s Office was addressing the issue of passports consumables that has seen the country having a passports backlog. – Chronicle