Passport production slow down receiving attention

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pretoria - A technological glitch, which has slowed down the production of passports at the Department of Home Affairs, is receiving maximum attention.

"Home Affairs is moving from some very old technology to new, improved systems. It is the interfacing of these systems that has created some delays in the production of passports," Mavuso Msimang, Director-General in the department explained.

A team of technical engineers and IT specialists have been working to resolve the glitches in the new passport production system and the Department's data capturing system.

"Significant progress has been made in resolving the problems and during the past two weeks over 25 000 passports were produced," said Mr Msimang.

He said the technology upgrades were imperative to the department's programme to improve service delivery and the security of the passport.

The department recently began phasing in a new passport with more security features.

The new passport has fine line security background designs depicting the Big Five printed on the pages and principal and secondary photos as well as an interlock stitching, which would be difficult for anyone to tamper with.

The passport holder's biographical data is laser engraved on a polycarbonate page and the paper used for the other pages of the passport includes a watermark.

No colour photos will be allowed for the new passport and passports for adults and children will now be the same colour, however with different content inside. An adult passport will still be valid for a period of ten years and five years for children.

The new passport was introduced as part of the department's turnaround programme aimed at improving customer service and stamping out the falsification of documents.

The previous South African passport will remain valid until its expiry date.

Mr Msimang apologised to members of the public for any inconvenience caused.