Wed | Jan 16, 2019

PICA's efficiency blew my mind

Published:Saturday | December 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM

PICA's efficiency

blew my mind

A few Fridays ago, I flew to Jamaica to get my passport renewed. As I wanted the next-day expedited

service, I went from the airport straight to the offices of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) on Constant Spring Road, and what an experience it was.

The first thing that struck me was that the security guards at the entrance actually smiled and were courteous as they directed me to the tent where my papers and application were checked. The PICA officers in the tent were also very courteous and professional, and within 10 minutes I was directed to the main building to get a number and wait for it to be called. Having got my number, I settled down to read the newspaper, as I was expecting a long wait, but before I could even scan the front page of the newspaper my number was called. About three minutes had passed.

At the counter, the clerk joked at my name ('Lazarus, come forth!' and all that), told me with a smile that my papers were in order, and asked how I wanted to pay. I told him that I needed the next-day service and he then proceeded to tell me that I had options, as I could pay with credit card, cash or even debit card.

At the adjacent cashier counter, I paid with my credit card, got a receipt and was told to pick up the new passport the following Monday at 3:30 p.m. On exiting the building, I checked my watch - about 15 minutes had passed since I entered the gate with the smiling security guard, and the same guard was smiling at me as I left, as if to say, "See how quick you get through!"

The following Monday at exactly 3:30 p.m., I arrived at the gate, where another security guard smiled at me and told me to enter the main building and get a ticket from the young man at the desk. The ticket was handed to me and, as usual, I took out the newspaper to read and wait for my number to be called. This time I was not even able to get the newspaper out of my bag before my number was called. All of one minute had passed. I checked.

Take a bow, PICA!