The picture that accompanied the story, titled 'Situation tough for both service-seekers, officials in passport office', published in this paper on March 04 last spoke volumes about the sufferings of the people who visit the passport offices in their thousands on working days.
However, service seekers have to endure such sufferings---there could be some variation in their level from one office to another---at most government establishments and public sector utility service providers.
But the content of the FE report in question is different from that generally published in the media. It has also told what most newspaper stories lack or avoid telling.
Though there are many passport offices in Dhaka and other places of the country, media focus has always been on the one located in Agargaon, Dhaka. This could be due to the fact that the number of people seeking passport and immigration services from this office is very large.
There is no denying that people face all types of hassles, to maximum possible extent, while seeking any type of service from the Agargaon passport office in particular. While submitting applications for passports or taking delivery of the same, people have to wait in very long queues for hours together and move from one room to another and from one floor to another. It is not just elderly people even young men and women do very often get irritated by the hassles involved in the passport-making process.
People are forced to remain standing for hours together as the sitting arrangements near service-counters are highly inadequate. The situation with the rest rooms is even more difficult. The service-delivery counters are located in small rooms at different floors. The queues of service-seekers take a serpentine shape and use the staircases to reach the floors below.
Moreover, the foreigners who seek visa services at the Agargaon office do return with a very bad impression as they also face various hassles. Moreover, the overall environment in the visa office cannot be termed congenial at all.
But there is another side of the story and the FE report has tried to present it to its readers also. The service seekers do face enough of difficulties, but not all of that are deliberate, it seems.
The logistics and manpower at the Agargaon passport office fall short of requirements. One can well imagine the pressure that 46 officials have to take if they are required to deliver services to 10,000 people daily. The delivery of service up to the satisfaction of the visitors is almost humanly impossible in this situation.
So, there is an acute shortage of manpower, logistics and space in the existing passport office at Agargaon. This shortage gives rise to hassles and makes passport-seekers vulnerable to falling into the traps laid by middlemen or 'dalals'.
The officials concerned at the regional passport office said they have communicated to the ministry of home for making available what is necessary to improve the situation, repeatedly, but there has been no response from the other end.
What is needed in the first place is the extension of the present space of the Agargaon passport office, by relocating the head office the department of passport and immigration in some other areas. A spacious hall room needs to be built in the vacant land adjacent to the present location of the passport office. What will be more important here is the transfer of all the service-counters to that hall. This will make the service-seekers comfortable. Given the importance of the passport office, the government should not behave miserly and make available necessary manpower and logistics to the passport office.
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