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Acquiring a passport in Ghana; the truth.
- Once in the lifetime of everyone, we wish to leave our place of birth to explore other places to have a look and feel the atmosphere we have always heard about. Sometimes it a dream come true for us just to be on a bus with others as we leave our villages and towns to the cities we have always dreamed of. We all may not get the opportunity to travel outside our home countries but to the few who does, it a lifetime opportunity but it comes with a price. They have to go through some difficult times (depending on your classes in society, which I see it very wrong since we are citizens of the same country and the world but that’s how society has made it.) From where I am coming from, it’s always a miracle and a testimony when you get your passport or visa. Most people will never announce their travel intentions until they reach their destination before they will call home and tell you, “…by God’s grace I’m in … so please pray for me.” We often hear stories that, someone’s identity gets mixed up at the airport though they are using their own passports. They say, the immigration officers will tell them, they see a female face on the passport when it’s a male or vice versa so that they reason most Ghanaian overseas travelers don’t announce when they want to travel. If there are other reasons, I am yet to know.
As a member of ECOWAS we are issued with an ECOWAS passport which bares your national identity and that aids in easy movement from one region to the other in the sub region visa free. With this introduction, some people have taken advantage of the situation to get Ghanaian passports for their own selfish gains. I don’t blame them for having our national passports but blame those at the passport office who don’t see the importance of national security by issuing passports to the right people. From the little investigation I conducted, Ghanaians (when you’re traveling on a Ghanaian passport) are treated with a little respect as compared to other nationals in the sub region. We often get our visa processed on time base on our traveling history. With these benefits, these unscrupulous people have taken advantage of us with the help of amateur old workers at the passport office. It saddens my heart when I hear a report that a Ghanaian (base on the passport) was involved in any indecent activity overseas but when I hear the name, it doesn’t sound like any of our tribe names.
I was glad I was going to travel overseas for the 1st time in my life. I have traveled most part of Ghana and this was my chance to see the beautiful city of London and then move up north to New castle. It was a new task all together for a second year high school student and for my family. I made enquiries and it come out that the from costs GHC50.00 and GHC 100.00 respectively (in 2011). The GHC50.00 form will take a month to be ready and the 100.00 will take half a month to get it done, genuinely. I didn’t hesitate; I walked to the Ecobank branch in market circle in Takoradi and had my form with my receipt inclusive. When I had my forms, I was over the moon, I filled it with accuracy because I was so afraid I could be denied the passport and my chance would be blown away. In less than 3 hours the form was ready and I had to travel to Accra to send the forms with my sister at the passport office (Tema Station, Foreign affairs ministry). We went there very early thinking we will be the 3rd aside the securities but to my dismay we would’ve been the 1000th if we were to be counted there I knew I’m not the only one so ready to leave the country.
I had my chance to get interviewed. I went in there with some pride and some knowledge on what they will ask me. I answered the questions perfectly and was told to get my biometric details confirmed and that wasn’t easy too. I had to queue for more than 4 hours because my sister has left for work and I had no protocol to lead me in until my sister came back. I went in and got everything done and was issued with a receipt indicating I have to be back in two weeks to get my passport. It was good news then so went home full of joy not expecting any bad news afterwards.
*There is no truth at Ghanaians passport office. It’s full of corruption and bribe. Before you can get interviewed you have to grease some few hungry men who work there and in my case we paid one Mr. Tetteh GHC150.00 before he could send my forms in for review before I was interviewed. It took my sister over 2 hours to decide to pay or not. She finally gave in and paid because no one was ready to listen to her story and was told “Lady if you want things to get done, pay and be free.’’ (in Twi) That was when we were told in the face that, the GHC50.00 or GHC100.00 forms does nothing. There’s no merit paying for the 2 weeks form. If you have money for bribe, you can have a passport in 7 working days.
*The kind of questions asked during the interview is very easy for a non-citizen to answer. Also if you’re a non-citizen and can pay about 3x the amount, you will get your passport with no problem since there are some ‘Gago boys’ (name for middle men) under the neem tree on your far left when you enter the premises or at the gate before you enter, who will aid you get a Ghanaian birth certificate and swear oath to help you get your passport. There should be enough background checks on the person
*What those at the passport office are afraid off is that if you are a celebrity or a foreign national [if you have a dual citizenship] who can slang and shout at them. I was there that day when a celeb came in with her daughter to get a passport for and it took him less than 30mins to get things sorted out for him and was told to come back in a week time.
*Reasons most Ghanaians don’t own a passport or are afraid to get one is, they are often lied to and to them it seems only the élite in society should have a passport. There isn’t much education on the acquisition of passport. When someone thinks about a owning a passport, they will be thinking about having a thousand cedis before they can have it. Also they are made to believe that they can’t get it for themselves unless they get the assistance of a middle man.
It took me about three weeks to get my Ghanaian passport after so much tossing. I was glad I did at last because from the story I heard from a woman who sat nearby, the passport office was her new home because she has come there every day for two months only to know that her passport application have been misplace but no one hears her cry simply because she can’t make noise. Her hand was in the mouth of the enemy, she can’t hit him on the head. If she dares, he bits. I am praying I will have problems with them again as I go back to renew my passport. For my visa problems, watch this space.
HOW TO GET A GHANAIAN PASSPORT;
*Get your passport forms at the major post office near you or selected banks near you. The last time I checked, prices of forms remains same.
*After you have your forms, fill it out in BLOCK where it demands. If you cannot read to understand, seek help from a trusted friend not a middle man. Remember to get an endorsement from your pastor or your work place or any respected person in the community.
*Ask if there is and PAC centre nearby, if there isn’t any, you need to travel to Accra but please don’t forget to get bring these documents along. Take alone your Birth certificate [must be a new one from the birth and death registry], any national identity card.
*Don’t be tempted to pay bribe to any official at the office. If anyone demands, don’t pay, just identify the person and report the person. It’s his duty to help you get a passport.
*Keep your receipt you will be issued well since that’s what you will use when going for your passport.
Thank you for your time in reading. Please share this information to others so they won’t be misled. If you have any problem with any institution, send your complaints to my mail [firstname.lastname@example.org] and I will help you by forwarding it to those who can help.