Staff and agency representatives at various passport offices in the Greater Accra Region have come under fire from the foreign affairs minister, Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, for purportedly participating in unscrupulous practices.
Her remark comes in response to rising worries about the system for issuing passports being tarnished by allegations of corrupt behavior on the part of some authorities.
On August 14, 2023, during a press conference that 1Family Radio was listening to, the minister expressed her rage about officers extorting money from applicants and, in response, fired all of the overstaying officers.
She claims that these overstaying officers conspire with unapproved middlemen, also referred to as “goro people,” to take advantage of applicants by charging outrageous amounts for expedited passport services.
“First of all, let me say that this is not the first time I have come to the passport office. I have done an unannounced tour of the two passport application centers, but for me, this particular visit has become necessary because of some reports that I have.’’
She continued, “Reports that officers and there are nine or so agencies represented in any passport application center… these people are involved in illegal activities, and when I say illegal activities, we know just two days ago from the report in the Daily Guide that the issue of goro people involved in our passport acquisition process has become rife.’’
“How can GH¢100.00 for standard service of passport acquisition and GH¢150.00 for expedited service be bumped up to GH¢2, 000.00 and GH¢3,000.00? I hear they don’t even charge GH¢ 2,000.00 now they are charging GH¢3000.00 and it is wrong.’’
“We are investigating, and we have some leads that we are dealing with, and very soon we will be able to have some firm information that we will deal with.’’
She added, “This is not something new; we have always said that no agency should keep their staff here for more than a year, and yet this is overlooked sometimes, so Intend to ensure that this is carried out.’’
“Anybody who has been here for more than a year from Monday, please do not come back because you have been changed; we want to bring sanity. Every time politicians are corrupt, meanwhile, it is some public civil servants who will do things that shouldn’t be done and they put it on politicians,’’ she said.