Despite the ban of the Emergency Travelling Certificates (ETD) by the South African and Angolan Governments, there are 3000 passports and 22 000 identity (ID) cards gathering dust at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration in Windhoek.
The current number of uncollected passports at Home Affairs amounts close to N$5m and increases each day that applicants do not come to collect them, according to the Ministry’s Chief Control Officer for Passport and Citizenship, Max Niilenge.
Since February last year, the Ministry introduced a countrywide short message system (SMS) whereby when passports are issued texts are sent to the applicants to collect their documents.
“Before we introduced the SMS system, we had even more uncollected documents with us but the number has decreased since then although it is still worrisome,” he said.
The Chief Control Officer explained that another challenge facing the Ministry is the pressure of late applicants.
“In many occasions, people don’t want to follow procedures. They approach us a few days before their planned trips,” said Niilenge.
According to the Ministry, the reason why documents are abandoned at the Ministry is because people apply for both passports and identity cards and when one of them is issued, they become reluctant to collect the other.
“People tend to use passports as a means of identification within the country and not specifically for travelling purposes,” said Niilenge.
But the major reason why there is a high number of uncollected identity cards, Niilenge said that in many cases people apply for IDs in one town and they migrate to another, therefore abandoning the documents at some regional offices of the Ministry and they do not make follow up.