THE long queues, frustration and complaints at the home affairs offices have been a thing of the past since the ministry moved to the new building in Harvey street.
Officials explained there is no backlog at the new building, as the space has improved the services effectively and efficiently.
Alfons Witbeen, deputy director for Khomas and Omaheke regional clusters, told New Era during a tour of the new building that in the past, identification documents were printed daily; however, they are now been printed every two hours.
He explained all staff are now accommodated on the same ground; hence, it is easier to speed up the process as communication and the submission of the application forms for the process to kick off.
“Previously, there used to be challenges of the transportation of the application forms from the regional office at the northern industry to the head office in town. As a result, the ID was only used to be printed daily – not every two hours – until the application forms of that day are finished,” said Taddeus Shambalula, the control administration officer for ID production.
Shambalula further indicated that the average turnaround time also now stands at five working days, compared to 21 days for the forms received.
This means the waiting period for ID documents is now only five days.
He added that at the new building, they now print about 700 ID cards a day.
Witbeen explained the ministry has also reduced the backlog for initiating outreach programmes, which deal with birth certification for late registration as well as new ID applications for school learners.
“We approach schools to collect the birth certificates of learners who turn 16 years old and then they send them to us. From there, we start the process of issuing the documents – just to reduce the backlog,” he explained.
The outreach programmes are also done for special cases, such as disabled persons or at hospitals.
Another aspect that has reduced the backlog at home affairs is the birth registration of babies born at Windhoek hospitals, such as Katutura or Central hospitals and Rhino Park.
However, although the services have improved drastically, the office is still faced with challenges of residents who do not take care of their vital documents and turn up in numbers to apply for duplicates.
Witbeen said for the ministry to encourage residents not to lose or damage the documents, there is a fixed amount to be paid when one is applying for the duplicates of identification documents.
According to Penda Asino, the head of the passport production, the ministry can now print 400 to 500 passports per day, compared to the past when they would print 200 to 300 passports per day.
“We print diplomatic, ordinary, service and refugee passports as well as emergency passports,” he indicated.
It takes one or three days for applicants to obtain their passports.
The emergency passport is normally issued in case of emergency, and the person will not have to wait for the normal passport, as it causes delays.
However, it cannot be used in South Africa – only in other SADC countries.
The ministry said there are currently 8 000 recognised refugees in the country who are in the possession of Namibian documents.
The acting director of the refugee programme, Milka Tjiveta, indicated that all refugees in the country are housed at Osire.
They are entitled to a refugee ID, birth certificates, exit permits and passports.