Local time: Saturday, 29 February 2020 16:24:18hrs
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The rate at which Botswana passports are being lost is alarming and calls for stiffer measures, says Ms Dorcus Makgato.

Ms Makgato, who is minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, said some passports were lost while others were sold by owners.

Addressing a full session of the Central District Council on September 24, Ms Makgato said it had been discovered that some holders of Botswana passports were implicated in criminal activities abroad.

Countries such as the United Kingdom, upon realising that Botswana passports were used by criminals, were contemplating imposing visa requirements on Batswana.

The minister said the passport issue had the potential to affect relations between Botswana and other countries and threatened the country’s security.

Ms Makgato said some passports were simply not cared for by their owners to the extent that children wrote on them and liquids were spilled on them.

This, she said, compelled government to introduce stiffer measures which ultimately impacted negatively on Batswana.

Loss of Botswana passport attracts 12 months ban from acquiring a new one and where the minister determines that the passport was lost or destroyed through negligence or that there is a possibility of fraud, a P1 000 fee would be levied on the applicant.

Saying the penalties were justified, Ms Makgato said the fees were lower than production costs.

She said the ministry would only consider relaxing the penalties upon realisation that Batswana had come to a level where they cared for their passports.

On other issues, the minister appealed to the public to collect their national identity cards.

She said about 30 000 Omang cards remained uncollected at the ministry’s offices which negated the hard work put into clearing the backlog.

Efforts have been made though short message services (SMS) to inform owners of the readiness of their cards for collection yet the response was still worrisome, the minister said.

Ms Makgato said that her ministry had put concerted efforts to clear the approximately 200 000 Omang backlog by among others purchasing more equipment, engaging services of intern officers as well as extending office hours.

The minister also apprised councillors on the interventions meant to enhance and expedite service delivery at her ministry.

Among them she mentioned the scrapping of requirements for people, especially women, to be required to take off their headgear of cultural or religious importance, in order to take a photograph for Omang and passport.

She said the ministry had moved from producing 1 500 to 3 000 cards per day. BOPA

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