The Passport Office says they will launch an investigation after claims of illegal fees being charged for the printing of passports.
Some Ghanaians have alleged that in their desperation to acquire passports paid between GH¢400 and GH¢700 to unauthorized facilitators, popularly known as ‘Goro Boys’ in order to fast-track the acquisition process, despite paying for premium online services.
The applicants have also accused passport officials of deliberately making the process cumbersome, a situation that compels applicants to pay bribes.
Reacting to the issue, the Director of Passports, Dr. Louis Kwame Obeng refuted such claims.
“ My response as director of Passport is that Passport Office is not charging any extra money to print booklets or books for applicants. Indeed, with the online system that we have password of, it doesn't take money. We don't take money in our offices. Every payment is done online. So if there's somebody who pays money to an officer who claims is Passport Office staff, please, that is illegal and somebody who speaks on behalf of my minister in the ministry, we are prepared to listen to those people and then investigate. Because for far too long there are a number of people who go around taking money from people and then they tell them we work at our office, but we realize that these people work there” he said.
He later addressed the issue of differentiation of applicants who applies and wait months for the cards.
“ There are a number of reasons that could lead to a delay in issuing a passport to applicant. So if an applicant applies and there's a delay, is it important for the applicant to follow up. My second response, particularly regarding the one who said somebody applied in June and got it earlier. Now, this is what is happening at Passport Office, we have a system that responds to what we call emergency application or agent application. So these persons, and this is something I encounter on regular basis they come to Passport office and say look, my sister, my brother, my father has an emergency or she applied in June and yet has to travel to wherever please, can we assist? Otherwise, we will miss that opportunity and there'll be a problem. And as I got passport and as our offices, we respond positively and then we handle that case and then we realize that this person who did that without taking money from the applicant. So on our blind side, these people come and then beg and apply for because our system is a bit flexible and we're able to handle emergency cases.” he added.
He noted that, the credibility of the passports office can only be redeemed if the activities of ‘Goro Boys’ are stopped.