THE travel dilemma for many Namibian that was caused by a shortage of ordinary passport books has been rectified after the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration received a batch of the booklets from suppliers on Monday.
THE Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Maureen Hinda-Mbeunde said it gives her great pleasure to announce that the long wait for passports is finally over.
“The initial batch of ordinary passport books was received on Monday,” she announced and added that the ministry has put measures in place to ensure that a shortage of blank passport books will be something of the past.
Deouty Minster Hinda-Mbeunde added that the latest batch of passports book will have validity period of ten years.
“This will lessen the demand for new passports. However, the validity for passports for applicants under 21 years, will remain five years because of changes in facial features that occurs during that young age,” she said.
According to Hinda-Mbeunde, the ministry had to resort to issuing emergency passports of which 6 065 were printed, 2 064 being ordinary passports and 4 001 brown passports.
“The people with brown passports are encouraged to continue to use them to travel to destinations where they are recognized as legitimate travel documents. Additionally, we intend to clear the backlog of pending applications. Additional resources have been deployed to ensure that we clear pending applications within four to six weeks,” she said.
Deputy Minister Hinda-Mbeunde during the announcement said that the ministry was left with more than 5 000 expired passports that were never collected by citizens over the past few years. She added that many of the uncollected passports where applied for by people who had no intention to travel.
“Demands for passports have been inflated by people who apply for passports without the intention of travelling. During the period of shortage 160 passports remained uncollected, in addition to that more than 5 000 books that have already expired while being kept in storage on our shelves,” she said.
During the announcement the deputy minister also touched of the ongoing discussion between Namibia and Botswana to do away with visa requirements saying that talks between the two nations are at an advanced stage.
“The idea is to have citizens from both countries only use their identification documents when crossing borders and we have submitted a proposal and are currently awaiting a response from the government of Botswana,” she said.