At the risk of sounding unthankful and negative, I’m compelled to outline the high level of incompetence I’ve experienced and observed at the Lethem Passport Office in the hopes that my constructive criticism might compel change.
Before going any further, I’d like to express my gratitude to the authorities and persons who were responsible for bringing the Passport Office to Lethem for the benefit and convenience of the people of Region 9.
To begin with, the Lethem Passport Office doesn’t stock the application/renewal forms for sale at the office. When persons arrive at the office, they are told that they need to source the form from a printery anywhere in Lethem. There is a printery at the Lethem market which sells the forms for $500 each, by the way. It wouldn’t be such a difficult task for the office to stock those forms for sale instead of sending persons all the way back to the other side of town, would it?
Secondly, the office has no telephone number. And while I’m sure this is something that would change with time, I still feel the need to mention it in my outline of constructive criticism. Since the office has no contact number, the only way to make contact with the office is by physically going there. So, in essence, you can’t call the office to find out if your passport has arrived or not. You have to go there. Since I applied for my passport renewal in early December, I’ve visited the office about 5 times. Each time I was told a different story about when the passport would arrive.
The date I was given on the return slip is December, 9th 2022. It is now January 4th, 2023, and still my passport hasn’t come back from town. I checked with the passport office again today, 4th of January. I met two officers sitting comfortably inside of the office. When I asked them if they could check to see if my passport has arrived, they answered curtly without even leaving their seats or running any checks. The answer was a point blank “no.” I asked them if they have any idea when the passport would arrive. They bluntly said that I need to wait, and that I would be called whenever it arrives, whenever that is.
Today, 4th of January, 2022, I also took a woman over to have her passport renewed. Upon arriving there, the staff at the Passport Office informed her that she needs to go to a printery to get a passport renewal form, fill it up, and bring it back with $6000 and two passport sized photographs. I drove the woman to the market, purchased the form and we returned with the money, the photographs, and the passport form. Upon arriving with these, the lady was then told that she also needed to bring copies of her birth certificate. What’s baffling is why the staff at the office didn’t tell the lady that she needs to bring copies of her birth certificate the first time.
So I drove the lady all the way back to her home to get copies of her birth certificate. Then we went back to the passport office to fill the form and submit it with the rest of the requirements. The lady asked if there was a desk she could use to write on. There were no desks, counters, or other flat surfaces at the office on which the citizen could fill the form, just chairs. She had to make do and rest the forms on a book on her lap to fill it up.
With that being said, I must mention that I have met some helpful and friendly staff while visiting the Lethem Passport Office. I could call some names, such as Mr. Dey and Imran. There was also a young woman there by the name of Ms. Henry who was kind enough to offer me her personal contact number to call back the next day to find out if my passport arrived before going physically.
The Lethem Passport Office is, needless to say, a great initiative and a great convenience for which everyone in Region 9 is grateful, but a few things can be improved as suggested above.