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People's Report: Painful service at passport office

Published:Friday | October 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM
The Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency on Constant Spring Road in St Andrew.
Jennifer McDonald, CEO of PICA.

This is an open letter to Jennifer McDonald, CEO of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency.

I write to share with you my experience at your Constant Spring branch last week Tuesday. While I acknowledge the improvement in your air-conditioned waiting area, I was appalled at the lengthy delay in processing a renewal.

Having arrived at 11:15 a.m., I expected that processing and payment would've taken no more than two hours maximum, especially as your fees have increased. The photocopying process was done relatively quickly as well as the application form/documents being checked. Thereafter, we were told to have a seat.

Four hours and 29 minutes later, we completed our transactions and finally exited your premises. How can it take so long, in 2015, with all the technological strides that have been made?

Here are a few observations:

1. Parking is difficult. Where do we freely park without hassle from guards in the surrounding plazas? This is not customer-friendly.

2. If applications could be completed online, this would significantly reduce the wait time and human resources could be used to conduct secondary document checks. Has this been considered?

3. There were lulls in photocopying. Couldn't the rep be cross-trained to assist the other rep that is checking application forms?

4. There are four desks in the initial waiting area. Would it be possible to have reps doing secondary document/ID checks in the second waiting area, carry out their function in the initial wait area as well, so as to decrease the wait time?

5. Isn't there a way to fast-track the secondary document check? This took the longest of all the processing phases.

6. Could there be a representative dedicated to serving parents with children and the elderly?

7. No customer wants to leave for fear of losing their spot in the line. Yet, there are no food and beverage facilities on the compound. What do customers do with children after two to four hours of waiting?

8. It took one hour for me to collect my passport today and only within my last 10 minutes waiting were there three staff members working the collection desk.

Something has to be done about the painfully slow service being offered here. Someone once said, "I believe so much in the power of performance. I don't want to convince people. I want them to experience it and come away convinced on their own."

After this experience, it is unfortunate that I cannot endorse some of the positive feedback I have heard regarding PICA lately. I would appreciate your feedback and hope that your passport-renewal service would be executed in a more timely and technologically advanced fashion on my next visit.