Hundreds of passport seekers were this Tuesday turned away after thronging the Registrars General’s Office in Bulawayo for the application and collection of passports.
The office is serving only 50 applications for emergency passports per day. Police officers who were dispersing the people said the number of people served per day was limited to fifty as a measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Speaking to the Daily News, an unnamed police officer said:
Only 50 people are served per day and there is no reason for you all to crowd the place and cause congestion.
The situation is getting out of hand and some of you will risk being arrested.
You will find yourselves at the police station because you are not listening to our call. Go back home and you will come in small numbers.
Lockdown is still there and it is worrisome how most of you are not even thinking about it. You are risking your life and that of others.
An official from the Registrar General’s Office echoed the police reports that only 50 people were being served from 7:30 am up to lunchtime. The official said:
Once there are 50 people, we don’t entertain others and you should be here before our starting time.
There is no need to crowd this place.
Passport seekers were notified to return on April 26 once the backlog has been cleared.
The RG’s office is reported to have a backlog of about 250 000 passports that dates back to 2018.
The office indicated that it had inadequate consumables that are required for the production of passports.
This week, Cabinet reviewed fees for ordinary passports to USD60 and 200 for those that are produced within three days.
Thousands of people are applying and or renewing passports to escape the biting economy.
As a result of their separation to get the travelling document, some have fallen prey to corrupt officials who are reportedly demanding huge kickbacks for them to be served first while some are sleeping in elongated queues.