Thursday, May 8, 2014


FOR the last five weeks or so, I have been visiting our Immigrations Office to renew my passport.
It expired in March and I need to get it ready before July.
(To do that, I had to wake up a bit early at 10am and get to the office before it closed at midday or 11.30am. Since I work at night and usually wake up at midday, it was a challenge – quite stressful - to wake up early without getting my normal 6 or more hours of sleep.)

The first time I went to the office, I noticed how slow the process was.
I had to wait for more than three hours to collect the application form.
Then I had to pay K100 (on another day) at the Finance Dept’s office (about 3km away) to get a receipt and attach that to my application.
Following that, I had to get passport size photos (2) and have them signed by a lawyer friend.
There were “agents” who could do the job of processing your passport for you – but I chose not to engage any. (Of course, you will have to pay them for the service.)

Then there was also the option of choosing the “fast service” provided by the office – but that would require me to pay K300 for that, not K100.
For fast service, it is said that you can get the passport done within a few days.
For the normal option, it can take up to a month or more.

The week later when I turned up with the pics (and waited for at least three hours), the lady serving said, my pics were not good – they were too dark.
So I had to get new pics from a particular pharmacy (Chemcare) because the lady said they would do a better job.
Last Friday, I sorted the pics out, my lawyer friend signed them on Monday and I turned up at the Immigrations Dept today at 11.00am.
Unlike the past days when I was there, the room was freer – there weren’t many people.
I was served at about 12.40pm.
And it was today that my application was okayed.
I was told to check at the end of the month.

I thought the hard experience was good for me.
I first got my passport in 2004 when I was shortlisted for a postgraduate scholarship programme.
But that was done by the people in the agency overseeing the scholarship programme. (I did not know the process.)

In 2009, while I was working in Nauru, my passport expired and I sent the passport down (via DHL express service) to the PNG High Commission in the Solomon Islands to renew it for me.
(I rang them earlier to confirm that they could do that for me. Incidentally, in that year Digicel came onto the island nation and mobile communication made it easy for me to ring them regularly to see that everything was in order. Normal landline service could be difficult there.)
The renewal task was done within a week but because of wrong information entered, my passport was sent down to Brisbane and remained there for a few days until we tracked it and the HC staff had to reroute it back up to Nauru.

Another Sports official and myself have said at the Immigrations Office that the government should upgrade the office because the country’s population was not the same as it was 20 years ago.
Today people travel in and out of the country as frequently as from one province to another.

Now that my application is lodged, I can now rest.
One burden is out of the way.  
In other words, I will have a lighter weekend and will now turn my attention to other stuff that has been on my mind.
I hope you all have a nice weekend too.

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