Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, made a surprise visit to the Passport Office in Accra yesterday after a damning report by DGN Online exposing corrupt activities within the passport acquisition process.
The Minister, visibly furious, immediately ordered the transfer of staff members who have overstayed in their positions for more than a year across various locations in Ghana.
The Minister’s actions are aimed at bringing sanity to the system and putting an end to the artificial shortage of passport booklets that has been plaguing the country for some time now.
The report by DGN Online also highlighted the return of a notorious group known as “goro boys” within the passport office, causing unnecessary delays and demanding excessive amounts of money from applicants.
The corruption is not limited to the Passport Office, as the Birth and Death Registry was also mentioned in the report. Applicants revealed that normal birth certificate applications are deliberately delayed unless an additional amount of GHC500 is paid.
Innocent individuals are being exploited, exacerbating the frustrations faced by those in need of passport services.
The Foreign Ministry has been urged to take immediate action and launch a thorough investigation into these corrupt practices.
It is crucial to identify the root causes and eliminate this unethical cabal from the passport office.
The Minister stressed the importance of the passport office in facilitating travel and emphasized that no citizen should be held hostage by individuals seeking personal gains.
Transparency and accountability within the acquisition process are vital to the well-being of Ghanaians.
The Foreign Ministry must leave no stone unturned in eradicating corruption and ensuring a fair and efficient passport application system.
Addressing the staff at the passport headquarters, the Minister expressed her frustration with the situation.
She stated, “This cannot continue. There are outsiders, known as ‘goro boys,’ who are colluding with some of our staff members to manipulate the system and exploit innocent individuals. This must stop.”
The Minister also urged her colleagues to take responsibility, stating, “The blame is often placed on politicians, but it is some civil servants who engage in these corrupt practices. We are implementing digitalization efforts and providing an online system, but even that is being manipulated. An ongoing investigation has already revealed the involvement of certain individuals.”
To tackle the issue head-on, the Minister announced immediate transfer orders for staff members who have served over a year in their current positions, effective from Monday. This measure aims to bring much-needed sanity to the system and weed out those engaged in corrupt activities.
The Minister emphasized the need for public servants to provide ethical and efficient services to the public.
She called for unity in fighting corruption and assured Ghanaians that the government is committed to restoring integrity to the passport acquisition process.
As investigations continue, it is hoped that the Minister’s actions will lead to significant improvements in the efficiency and transparency of the passport office, ensuring that Ghanaians can easily acquire the necessary travel documents without falling victim to corruption.
By Vincent Kubi