There comes certain times in a country when certain corrupt acts and practices must be stopped with all the seriousness that they deserve. Sometimes I wonder why we still cannot get it right when it comes to the acquisition of passports in Ghana. Just visit any of the Passport Offices in the designated locations such as Accra, Ho, Sekondi-Takoradi, Kumasi and Tamale and tell me your observation. I have been to the Passport Offices in Accra, Takoradi and Ho and my observations so far will come from the Accra office and Ho office.
Is it not a basic right for every Ghanaian to acquire a Ghanaian passport? I happen to be in need of a passport, so I bought a passport form at a bank in Takoradi and filled it with the necessary information attached with the necessary documents. Since I went back to Accra, I deemed it necessary to submit it at the Passport Office. But my hopes were dashed when I got there at exactly 8am only to be told by the security man that I should have been there before 5am to be given a number for the submission of my forms. I asked myself, who reports for work at 5am in Ghana? He told me that they attended to only those who were given the numbers by 5am on a daily basis. Surprisingly, he asked me to give him GhC1000 he could help fast track the process. I declined that offer and walked away with my hopes dashed. I also observed some people standing at the entrance and calling applicants just to illegally help them acquire their passports. I heard these were the Goro Boys and they had their connections inside the Passport Office. With this experience, I resolved never to go back to the Passport Office in Accra. A friend advised me to submit my forms at the Passport Office in Ho. Guess what happened when I got to Ho?
The situation in Ho was nothing different as when I got there, I had to ask the officials at the Passport Office what I was supposed to do concerning the processes I was to go through. I submitted my forms and was told to sit down and wait. That seemed like eternity for me. Little did I know that some applicants were condoning corrupt acts there by putting money in their forms when submitting their forms. Those applicants were called within the shortest time though they came to meet some of us at the place. I waited for more than 3 hours before I was called and finally went through the process with some of the Immigration officers openly asking for money from me and some of the applicants. This was also going on at the biometric registration section of the Passport Office. I was left dumbstruck by the stinking corruption going on there. There was a notice pasted there that warned applicants from dealing with any of the immigration officers but I observed some of the applicants were going contrary to this directive.
Questions for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
How can we develop as a nation if Ghanaians have to go through a whole lot of frustrations before acquiring a passport? What happened to the much touted online passport application process? Is it really working? Are the staff not paid their monthly salaries? Is the Director of Passports aware of the corrupt acts going on there? Is the Minister of Foreign Affairs aware of these blatant acts of corruption going on at the various Passport Offices throughout the country? Is it also true that there is only one printer for the printing of passports and it is in Accra? Why are there no biometric machines or devices in all the regional capitals but only in Accra, Ho, Tamale, Takoradi and Kumasi? Why are there still Goro Boys at the Passport Offices? Why should we grease peoples palms before we acquire passports after buying the passport forms? This nonsense must stop as soon as possible because some of us are fed up to the neck about the stinking corruption going on at the Passport Offices. #GhanaMustWorkAgain #StopCorruptionAtThePassportOffice #MinistryOfForeignAffairs #GhanaiansDeservesBetter