The reports of violence and confusion at the Ghana passport offices are countless and undoubtedly issues of concern for everyone but those are not the direction of this paper.
The trauma one goes through at the Ghana passport office is never felt worse than when ones expiry date on his/her passport draws near.
Throughout the entire process of passport application/renewal, it appears the easiest process of it all has to do with the purchasing of the forms from the banks.
This makes one wonder as to the kind of operational guidelines that are employed by private institutions to improve upon their services. To these private organizations “the customer is always right” they say, and to the public organization, “who is always right”??
I believe every organization whether public or private should at all times be interested in improving operational capabilities to increase productivity and offer better service and satisfaction to its customers.
It is of grave relevance to state now that The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made various strides at improving the services of the Passport office, a few of such actions include:
• Installation and display of telephone lines so applicants can call to verify the status of their application.
• Updating of websites to inform the public on the steps and procedures in acquiring/renewing of passports and providing other relevant information.
• Plans to migrate the activities performed by the agency online to make the procedure more efficient and easily accessible to the public.
Whiles these are all very important to improving the services provided by the Ghana Passport Office to the public, a lot more could be done even now to better place the agency in delivering on its mandate.
Migrating the activities of the agency is undoubtedly the most effective course of action amidst the options available at mitigating the myriad challenges one endures in securing/renewing his/her passport and improving the services the passport office provides to the public.
However, this system is yet to be implemented and with it comes new challenges associated with introduction of new technologies and might take an amount of time getting used to. Thus the purpose of this paper is to consider other salient, feasible and cost effective way of reducing the turn up rates and confusion at the passport offices within less than a month of its introduction.
I am proposing to the directors of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ghana Passport office to introduce the simple system of ticketing or reservation as utilized by the banks and hotels. This I believe is a:
• Cost effective and
• Sustainable way of curbing the trouble faced by both the public and the administrators of the agency when people have to keep wake at the premise of the agency.
The procedure is simple:
1. A small team should be tasked to receive calls from the public and book appointments or reservations for clients to visit the office to undergo the process. There isn’t a need to employ new personnel as this could be done by the same personnel manning the telephone lines applicants call to verify the status of their applications. Their job description only needs to be revised to incorporate this activity.
2. Their task will be to help clients make reservation to a particular date to file their application documents. In effect, if the agency is able to process two hundred (200) applications in a day and the system is being implemented on 1st of October 2016, the first two hundred callers will be booked for that particular date. All callers after the 200th call will be booked for the next day and likewise the 401th will be booked for the 3rd of October 2016.
3. However, at the day of reporting anyone who is not present at the center to file his/her application will have his/her slot filled by any of the walk-ins to the center. Such people will have to make new arrangements by phoning in again to the call centers to make new appointments.
This concept I believe could be expanded and looked at more critically to encompass all the possible lapses that’s needs to be considered for such an intervention to prevail.
This I believe will go a long way to help the public, Passport Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the country at large.
By: A.A TAGOE