June 30, 2011

Over 130,000 biometric passports had been issued nationwide since April 2010, Mr Chris Kpodo Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister disclosed on Wednesday.

The Deputy Minister, who put the figure at 138,067, explained that 75,912 were expressly issued with 62,155 being regular passports.

In addition, he said 444 diplomatic passports and 142 service passports were issued during the same period.

He said the 444 diplomatic passports included those that were issued to members of Parliament.

The Deputy Minister, however said, 666 passports issued have still not been collected by their owners.

Mr Kpodo was speaking in Parliament during question time. He said the passport office had issued an average of 10,620 passports for the whole period reaching a peak of 17,305 passports in March 2011.

He said, however, that in the early part of 2011, the issuance of biometric passport by the passport office had been characterized by considerable delays and huge backlog due to various operational constraints.

Mr Kpodo explained that the passport issuing procedures had been streamlined and additional equipment installed, adding that these measures had greatly enhanced the productive capacity of the passport office and had enabled it to clear the previous backlog.

He noted that it had also assisted the office to issue passports within the stipulated time of three days for express passport and fifteen days for regular passports except in cases where there were problems with specific application submitted.

Mr Kpodo stressed that the biometric passport system had potent security features that could eliminate non Ghanaians from acquiring Ghanaian passports and explained that the applicant appearing in person was a major antidote to the problem of passport fraudsters.