By Saber Ayyub.
Tripoli, 17 August 2015:
Libya’s new biometric passports may be fraud-proof but Tripoli’s regular power cuts are playing havoc with . . .[restrict]the newly-introduced IT system supposed to speed the issuance of the new, state-of-the-art travel documents. Nor it seems do computer-booked appointments mean all that much to the guards who filter people into the application centres.
The experience today of one would-be new passport holder appears to be fairly typical.
Journalist Moutaz Karif had a confirmed appointment for this morning. The office opened at 8.30 am. But, he told the Libya Herald, to be on the safe side, he reached the Tajoura building at 6 am.
“I really dream of getting this new passport and I did not want to take any chances” he said, “I fully expected to be the first one there, but when I arrived there were already a lot of people queuing”.
One problem with the new online system, which allows remote booking of appointments, is that not all applicants at all the centres are assigned a specific number, just the day on which to turn up.
In contrast, a regular Libya Herald reader told this publication, on the basis of anonymity, that she had been issued with a specific number for her appointment at the Al-Maya centre, on the outskirts of Zawia. All the Tripoli centres were fully booked, she added, forcing her to seek an appointment further afield.
“Though the guard on the door appeared to be noting the order of people in the queue, ”said Karif, “every once in a while someone just turned up and was let into the building straight away. A lot of those waiting had been suspicious of favouritism and the rapid entry of people who were presumably his friends, confirmed this”.
However when the office formally opened, the guard began calling out names. “People were going in there every 15 minutes and we all became hopeful that we really would get our passports today”.
The queue inched forward slowly. Then at 11.30 am, the power failed. After a while Karif and the several dozen people still queuing were told to come back tomorrow. But of course tomorrow there will be a fresh batch of hopefully applicants clutching confirmed appointments for Tuesday. [/restrict]