By Mohamed Shaikhi.
Tripoli, 6 May 2015:
Getting a new Libyan passport can now . . .[restrict]cost three times more than a $60 barrel of crude oil. It may also require an overnight camp outside a government building.
The passport office in Tripoli has descended into a chaos where, it is being alleged, the highest bribe wins, but not automatically.
Libyans desperate to get the new blue electronic passport are discovering that wasta (influence) and simple folding stuff pressed into the apparently right palm are not always effective, because guards at the passport office are allegedly fighting among themselves to advance the applications of their “clients”.
Those who are not prepared to try and grease their way through the process, find themselves on a hiding-to-nothing.
“Because I don’t have the money to bribe the guards, I was not issued my electronic passport” one applicant told the Libya Herald. “I went to the department in Salah Eddin with my wife and the situation was very bad. Many sick and old people were waiting for their turn for hours. The guards of the passport department were using indecent words”.
This applicant claimed that he had seen the guards fighting among themselves over whom should enter the room where the photographs of applicants were taken.
This highlighted the plight of the sick, who cannot enter Tunisia and seek medical care, unless they have the new passport.
The challenge for Libyans is that any passport that was issue before 2007 is no longer accepted by Tunisia.
Getting to Tunisia, whether for competent medical care or merely safety from the conflict, is a prime driver for those who need the new passports. In recent months, many Libyans have presented their old green passports at the Tunisian border and been sent back.
This newspaper has been told that those who are prepared to pay up to LD1,500 will be placed by the guards in the faster queue for the key photographs.
“I had no another solution. I wanted to go to Tunisia as soon as possible so I could to take my sick mother for medical investigation” one succesful app;icant told this newspaper.
This person added that no one dared complain because if they did they were immediately taken to the end of the queue. [/restrict]