72 000 register for birth certificate

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By Ntsebeng Motsoeli

MASERU — About 72 000 people have reg­istered for birth certificates while 41 000 ap­plied for identity cards since the launch of the National Identity and Civil Registration (NICR) project in July last year.

Home Affairs Minister Joang Molapo said the ministry’s officers had registered more people than had been anticipated.

“I am proud of the good work that our of­ficers are doing. We are registering more peo­ple in one day than we had planned. We had planned to take in 200 to 300 applications a day but there have been days at the Maseru Post Office when over 1 000 applications have been received in a single day,” Molapo said.

He said the same pace of production can be expected in the issuance of passports.
“We have constantly supplied passports to people who have acquired the birth cer­tificates and identity cards. People get their passports within five days of submitting an application,” Molapo said.

He said the government spends about M60 million annually in subsidies to cover the cost of producing new passports with the new se­curity features.
Molapo said he was unhappy to learn that people slept over at post offices for the regis­tration services.

Large numbers of people queue to get birth certificates and identity cards every day. Oth­ers go to such extremes as sleeping over at the centre.

He said more people than expected came to apply for new birth certificates and identity cards which were introduced last July.

One can only apply for a new electronic passport after first acquiring the birth certifi­cate and ID card.

“I have spoken to some people to ask why they are sleeping at the facilities and they told me that they want to be the first to be served when the offices open in the morning,” Molapo said.
“I feel so sad when I drive past the Post Of­fice in Maseru and see so many people wait­ing for the service. I wish there was a way to quicken the processes,” he said.

He said there was eagerness among the public that gather at the offices.
“People are also hopeful that unlike in the past now there is progress; they know they will eventually get the documents they have wanted for a long time,” he said.

He however said that the service providers were overwhelmed by the numbers of people who came for registration.

The NICR director, Tumelo Raboletsi, said there is hope that by end of financial year 2015/2016 over 90 percent of Basotho will be in the national registry.

Raboletsi said the current numbers are sur­prisingly big for a project that was piloted for four months in four districts.

“It is a big achievement. We are running a model which will help us make the projections of the numbers of people who would have reg­istered in the coming years.
“People are going to be surprised,” Rabo­letsi said

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