previously the delivery of a passport, a document to which every citizen is entitled, was a veritable uphill task. Obtaining the document was at times even more difficult than obtaining an academic qualification and under-the-table deals surrounding their delivery sometimes absorbed as much as even a million CFA Francs in the process. For some years now there has been some order in the system, but not good enough to ensure that citizens applying for this important travelling document obtain it without any hitches.
Some civil servants of the national security corps and, above all, the numerous go-betweens who had made facilitation a veritable flourishing business had virtually reintroduced the vices that had enabled the authorities to step in. This time, they were very civilized indeed; using such subterfuges and fine language such as “express” passports to attract many “customers” from whom they extracted huge sums of money in order to obtain a passport within a reasonable time frame.
Passport seekers from the Regions were their principal targets; understandable so because many of them, coming from distant locations around the country found it convenient to pay some extra money and get their passports quickly. The fee could go as high as even 300 000FCFA. It took the firm outing of Police Commissioner Jean Louis Messing, Director of Frontier Police last Friday, to bring back normalcy. He told a Yaounde press gathering that henceforth, his office will no longer directly treat any requests for passports because the process is supposed to be started at all emi-immgration police stations located at the various Regional headquarters before being sent to his office for signature.
The director’s pledge was followed by a statement from the office of the Delegate General for National Security reminding the public of the same measures and even going further to insist that no fee of above FCFA 78 000 was needed for processing a passport: FCFA 1000 for fiscal stamps, FCFA 2000 for passport-size photographs and FCFA 75000 fees for ordinary passports
These measures are meant to fight corrupt practices the government is currently involved in.They are also a practical manifestation of the desire expressed by the President of the Republic Paul Biya when he addressed the nation on December 31, 2015. On that occasion he specifically spoke of the need to modernize the functioning of administrative services so as to make them a veritable force for progress. A corrupt civil service can hardly be a source for progress and that is why measures such as those taken by the police services to rid the process of issuing passports of corrupt practices is a move in the right direction because it has come to make access to public services more easy for citizens.