The Registrar General’s office has introduced night shifts as a strategy to clear the passport backlog that dates back to 2019.
The office has been failing to clear the passport backlog which it attributed to the inadequacy of consumables required in the production of the travelling document.
Resultantly, passport seekers had to sleep at the offices to be in front of the elongated queues while the most desperate would pay huge bribes to have the production of their passports quickened.
It has also emerged that there are challenges in the production of plastic national identity cards, due to a shortage of consumables and the government is, as a result, giving priority to high school pupils who need the IDs to sit for public examinations and people with selected emergencies.
The rest of the applicants are getting “green copy” waiting passes.
Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Kazembe Kazembe told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services that double shifts working five days a week have been established to clear a passport backlog of 225 747, dating back to March 2019.
Kazembe said under the new arrangement introduced on Monday, the country will be producing up to 4 500 passports daily while Treasury is set to procure machinery to double the output to 9 000. He said:
_. . .introduction of Double Shift Working Programme with effect from 26 April 2021. The programme consists of the day and night shift. The night shift operates from 8 pm to 4 am whilst the day shift operates from 8 am to 4 pm._
_The two shifts will be working five days a week excluding weekends. The strategy is aimed at clearing the passport backlog. With the introduction of the double shift working programme, my Ministry will be in a position to produce between 4 000 and 4 500 passports a day. The expected daily output for the day shift will be between 2 000 and 2 500 whilst the expected output for the night shift will be 2 000._
He said the measures will see the Ministry meeting the current demand for passports while ensuring that the passport backlog does not occur.