The lack of leadership at the Passport Office of Ghana, Ghana Card registration centres and SIM re-registration outlets, is creating public apathy towards an otherwise brilliant idea of digitalisation.

It also reflects the thoughtlessness of those continually trumping the digitalisation process without pausing to assess the aggravation caused by rushing a largely illiterate population with poorly skilled workers to achieve in a few years what other countries are doing over decades.

People who applied online for the normal 32-page passports have a heartbreaking story about the insensitivity of Passport Office officials to fellow Ghanaians desirous of getting new passports to help register for the vaunted Ghana Card.

These unfortunate Ghanaians have been told that 32-page passports cannot be procured now, and the customers must keep coming to the Passport Office indefinitely in the hope that one day the 32-page passports would be available for collection.

The head of the unit at the Greater Accra Regional Office at the old Foreign Affairs Building insisted that only the 48-page premium passports are being printed at the moment, and there is no immediate solution to the plight of people who paid 100 Cedis for the normal 32-page passports.

As it stands, these people who paid for their passports and took photographs back in November, have no idea when their passports would be ready.

Rational questions

The question on the lips of every victim is why a government bent on digitalisation cannot consider it prudent to issue the available 48-page passports to customers who paid for advertised services which the system has failed to deliver.

Victims are reduced to wanderers at the gloomy premises of the Passport Office where the amenities are shamefully deplorable.

These stranded Ghanaians have wasted money and time enough to pay for the premium passports many times over.

However, not one official at the Passport Office or the sector ministry has the brainwave or the magnanimity to put the life of the fellow Ghanaian first.

Crowding and COVID-19

There is unnecessary exposure of many Ghanaians to coronavirus as they are compelled to loiter around the premises of the Passport Office in the hope that one day the government-induced fidgeting around Passport Office would yield a document whose acquisition is their constitutional right.

People continue to throng these facilities for days and weeks without adherence to the COVID-19 protocols.
The sanitisers and items required for safety are not enough to cater for the crowds at the places.

Degrading fellow Ghanaians

Customers have been reduced to wandering, dejected souls in the sad and mournful environment, where rusty seats permanently stain their clothes at the end of their travail.

The rickety seats which were donated by the China-Africa Development Fund, have outlived their usefulness and are not worthy of customers paying through the nose for a service.

The public washrooms are often locked up, compelling the stranded customers to either urinate behind their cars or in the space behind the toilet and the photocopier’s container shop near the car park.

Hardnosed business as usual

While all this is going on, the directors at the Passport Office are repeatedly boasting in the media about the migration to online passport application, without compunction.

The is a daily ritual of the of E-Messiah Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and cheerleader Ursula Owusu-Ekuful telling it on the mountain that Ghanaians must seek first the Ghana Card as a panacea to individual and national economic misery.

Meanwhile, the maddening crowds at the Passport Office, the Ghana Card registration centres and the SIM card re-registrations centres all point to one thing – disastrous leadership.

Unanswered questions

Ghanaians need answers to why the digitised data from Passport Office is not accessed by the Ghana Card Registration system so that people only present themselves for vetting and issuance of the Ghana Card.

It is still unclear even to the Ghana Card registration officials why older people are being asked to acquire biometric birth certificates when all that is required is the person’s details, not a biometric birth certificate per se.

Government is yet to explain to Ghanaians why such a crucial exercise has registration officials pausing and going for lunch breaks while people stand in queues waiting to register.

Above all, why is it so easy for foreigners to pay money and acquire Ghana Cards when the idea is to prevent undeserving people from laying claim to Ghanaian citizenship?

What has Ghana learned from countries like Angola and Gabon which have given the digitalisation process a human face, knowing that the poor infrastructure and the rigid deadlines only exacerbate the misery of the people?

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.