Home Affairs introducing SMS lines for enquiries

WINDHOEK: The Ministry of Home Affairs has introduced a mobile-based customer service in the form of text messages for applicants to enquire about the status of their passport applications directly.

The Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana made this announcement in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

“I am delighted to inform this August House that through the introduction of the SMS enquiry service, applicants for passports are now able to query the actual status of their application directly in their own comfort zones, using their mobile phones,” she said.

The minister said applicants can send an SMS to the ministry’s short code 10001 with the letters ‘PA’ followed by the reference number on the payment receipt, for example ‘PA123679’.

Iivula-Ithana explained that the system confirms the latest status of the specific application relating to the reference number, and sends the appropriate response to the applicant, indicating whether the application has been processed for collection, or is not yet ready.

“The possible responsible stages which indicate the status of an application according to our system will be captured, processed, approved and ready for collection,” she said.

The minister said due to the centralised nature of the current system, all passport applications are processed at the head office in Windhoek.

She noted that passport applications submitted at regional offices take at least two weeks before being sent to Windhoek for recording and further processing.

Iivula-Ithana said as a result of this time delay, these applications can only be queried within four weeks after submission, unless alternative arrangements have been put in place, such as in the case of an emergency.

The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration is also at an advanced stage with plans to integrate other systems such as those for identification document (ID) card and visa/permit applications into a similar enquiry service.

Iivula-Ithana said the ID system is already in place, while the visa/permit system is set to be launched next month.

A number of Members of Parliament, such as Swanu of Namibia president Usutuaije Maamberua, Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) vice president Steve Bezuidenhout, and Swapo-Party member Kazenambo Kazenambo congratulated the ministry for developing the system in order to increase its service delivery.