President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has inaugurated a three-level, purpose-built new Passport Head Office in Accra.
With ancillary facilities such as a meeting room, a cafeteria for staff, a structured archival room, among others, the edifice is expected to provide a conducive and enabling environment for both staff and clients of the office.
The President commended the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration for providing the dynamic foundation which had stimulated the growth and development of passport acquisition in the country.
He expressed optimism that passport applicants could now go through the application processes in an objective and transparent manner, without the associated double-dealing.
“Today is a very encouraging day for us, and it is for the people who are working here, the Foreign Service officials, to make sure that the place is well maintained and kept to ensure that the purpose of the efficient administration of the passport regime of the country is maintained and kept,” he said.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, described the inauguration of the new office as a historic moment for passport administration in Ghana.
She said the office was the culmination of the positive intervention and reforms undertaken by the government to significantly transform the operations of the Passport Office.
She said the ministry, under her administration, had also implemented the online passport application system which had phased out the manual application process.
“These interventions have eliminated all the difficulties associated with acquisition of passports, notably turnaround time for the delivery of passports, document fraud and middlemen, popularly known as ‘goro boys’,” she added.
Passport acquisition, Ms Botchwey noted, had been made easier and brought to the doorstep of Ghanaians following the establishment of passport application centres in Kumasi, Tamale, Koforidua, Tema, Ho, Takoradi, Sunyani, as well as other premium application centres in Accra and Kumasi, to provide expedited services.
She further announced that new passport application centres were going to be inaugurated in Cape Coast and Wa, along with a new premium centre in Tamale.
The ministry, she said, was also in the process of renovating all the existing regional passport application centres to improve service delivery in more conducive and convenient environments.
She said the ministry had also extended biometric passport services to Ghana’s diplomatic missions abroad, indicating that 22 missions were now able to issue biometric passports to Ghanaians in the Diaspora.
She gave an assurance that the remaining missions would also commence the issuance of biometric passports by the second quarter of 2021.
The minister also said it was a civic responsibility for Ghanaians to guard the passport application process and not yield it to unscrupulous people to undermine the integrity of the Ghana passport.
She, therefore, called for the cooperation and support of all stakeholders to protect the integrity of the Ghana passport.
“Let me hasten to admonish the management of this facility to preserve and properly maintain this beautiful office in which so many resources have been invested,” Ms Botchwey said.