By Ntsebeng Motsoeli
MASERU — About 72 000 people have registered for birth certificates while 41 000 applied for identity cards since the launch of the National Identity and Civil Registration (NICR) project in July last year.
Home Affairs Minister Joang Molapo said the ministry’s officers had registered more people than had been anticipated.
“I am proud of the good work that our officers are doing. We are registering more people in one day than we had planned. We had planned to take in 200 to 300 applications a day but there have been days at the Maseru Post Office when over 1 000 applications have been received in a single day,” Molapo said.
He said the same pace of production can be expected in the issuance of passports.
“We have constantly supplied passports to people who have acquired the birth certificates and identity cards. People get their passports within five days of submitting an application,” Molapo said.
He said the government spends about M60 million annually in subsidies to cover the cost of producing new passports with the new security features. Molapo said he was unhappy to learn that people slept over at post offices for the registration services.
Large numbers of people queue to get birth certificates and identity cards every day. Others go to such extremes as sleeping over at the centre.
He said more people than expected came to apply for new birth certificates and identity cards which were introduced last July.
One can only apply for a new electronic passport after first acquiring the birth certificate and ID card.
“I have spoken to some people to ask why they are sleeping at the facilities and they told me that they want to be the first to be served when the offices open in the morning,” Molapo said.
“I feel so sad when I drive past the Post Office in Maseru and see so many people waiting for the service. I wish there was a way to quicken the processes,” he said.
He said there was eagerness among the public that gather at the offices.
“People are also hopeful that unlike in the past now there is progress; they know they will eventually get the documents they have wanted for a long time,” he said.
He however said that the service providers were overwhelmed by the numbers of people who came for registration.
The NICR director, Tumelo Raboletsi, said there is hope that by end of financial year 2015/2016 over 90 percent of Basotho will be in the national registry.
Raboletsi said the current numbers are surprisingly big for a project that was piloted for four months in four districts.
“It is a big achievement. We are running a model which will help us make the projections of the numbers of people who would have registered in the coming years.
“People are going to be surprised,” Raboletsi said