Saturday, May 30, 2020
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Long lines, slow service cause frustrations at Passport Office

Scores of disgruntled applicants stood in disorganized lines outside the Passport Office on University Drive yesterday morning.

Although the office does not open until 8:30 a.m., some of them complained that they had been waiting outside from as early as 5 a.m. 

Joan Ferguson, who is a senior citizen, said yesterday was her second time attempting to renew her passport this week.

“I was here yesterday. I got here 7 a.m. and I left 9 a.m.,” Ferguson said.

She added: “Two hours yesterday and when I got to the door I was turned away. [Right now], it’s 8:34 a.m. and I was here from 6:30 a.m. I don’t know what’s going on.”

Ferguson said it is crucial that she gets her passport renewed this week because her brother is sick in the United States and she wants to visit him.

While describing yesterday’s process of serving applicants as “disorganized”, Alexandra Czartoryski, who is the mother of a three-year-old girl, said she arrived at the Passport Office at 5:45 a.m. hoping for speedy service.

“I reached here [and] they had a list going, so I put my name down and as soon as they opened the doors, the list disappeared,” she said.

“People just started rushing through the door and did what they wanted. Since then we’ve been trying to reorganize and convince them to use the list that was in place and hopefully they’re doing it now.”

When asked how she was managing with her daughter also on the line with her, Czartoryski said,  “It’s clearly impossible.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield admitted that the Passport Office “has been experiencing some challenges in that the space is too small”.

He said, “We’re looking currently at the staffing levels. We’re hoping that we can begin soon to do a lot of applications for renewals particularly online.

“We’re examining very closely the operations to see how we can better make it more amenable for the Bahamian public.”

He urged Bahamians to renew their passports on a regular basis in order to prevent “extraordinary crowds” during the summer months.

Kevin Sands, who went to the Passport Office at 7:30 a.m. to renew his passport, said he cannot recall a time that he’s ever gone there and not met a line.

“They need to do better,” Sands said.

“Every time I come out here to do this, the lines are always long and stuff like that. They need shaping up.”

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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