Bahamians seeking to renew their e-passports are finding it much more difficult as they now have to provide certain documents that are proving to be onerous for some.
Chief Passport Officer Siobhan Dean said yesterday that this is in part due to the inconsistencies in the documents individuals are bringing in, as well as the lack of due diligence done with the system when it was initially launched in 2007.
Asked how many people have been impacted, she noted, “Quite a number of them have to go through this process. These things extend back, and [as] I said, because due diligence wasn’t done when we moved into the first e-system…this is where we find ourselves today.”
Dean talked about the issue at length on Monday while on the Guardian Radio show “Morning Blend” with host Dwight Strachan.
“Why the process today is not as seamless as it was in 2007 when the first e-passports were introduced is because they weren’t doing the due diligence that we are doing today,” Dean said.
“You just came in with the old manual passport and you had your birth certificate and you had an affidavit that was not recorded.
“The birth certificate there might have been a misspelling with the name in the manual passport that was not checked and so that is why the process appeared to be so seamless back then.
“Today what we are doing is, we are trying to get it right.
“We are asking persons if you have an affidavit to have it recorded at the Registrar General’s Department.
“If you don’t have a birth certificate and you are using an affidavit, we cannot accept it. An affidavit cannot stand alone. There must be something to substantiate it.
“That’s why we are asking persons to get a hospital letter. In the event you are unable to find a hospital letter, we say get a baptismal certificate or something that will substantiate your birth or give the affidavit some value.”
Last week, scores of disgruntled applicants stood in disorganized lines outside the Passport Office.
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.
Several people also took to social media to vent their frustrations over the matter.
One person using the name Bahama Ali said, “I’m a Bahamian who has held two passports previously. This office is giving me the run around because my father used his middle name on my birth certificate. They won’t issue an e-passport until an affidavit is produced. He is 72. This is ridiculous.”
Applicants are also unable to go on the online platform for information because it has been removed for testing of a new system.
Dean said, “Once we have some level of comfort with this online system that we have just tested, we will be putting the information out there.
“We are currently revising our pamphlet and once we have gotten the okay to go ahead, we will be printing these en masse and putting them back in the libraries and we will also be putting them on the online site.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield yesterday refused to comment on the matter.