A long delay in issuance of biometric passports: Insider says Semlex sole printing machine not working

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An insider at The Gambia Immigration Department who works at the Passport Unit has informed The Alkamba Times that Semlex, a company responsible for printing biometric passports and identity cards for Gambians, has been battling with broken machines since July 20, causing a long queue of Gambians waiting for the processing of passports and identity cards.

Scores of Gambian Biometric Passport and Identity Card applicants are reportedly asked to wait for their documents for nearly two weeks as the government-contracted company, Semlex, failed to deliver them.

According to impeccable sources close to The Gambia Immigration Department (GID), the long wait for the applicants’ documents is due to the breakdown of the sole printing machine, which the company has yet to fix.

An Insider at the GID who works at the passport unit told TAT the breakdown of the printing machine is causing delays in the delivery of passports and Identity Cards for numerous applicants and confirmed that the printing machine broke down in July 2023.

According to him, Semlex has now turned to Belgium, where they hire special technicians to fix the breakdown, revealing that they are yet to be in the country, complicating the already stressful situations applicants encounter.

He disclosed that last month, over one hundred and thirty-five applicants who turned up to collect their passports and Identity Cards were asked to go home and wait for calls from GID, adding that the situation has been very stressful for some applicants whose travel arrangements have been hampered.

An applicant who preferred to remain anonymous, fearing reprisal, expressed his disappointment to GID and SEMLEX for not meeting expectations. He added that his travel arrangements to the USA were canceled due to the delay in getting his passport from the GID.

According to her, officers at the passport unit of the GID informed her that it would take a maximum of two weeks for the passport to be processed, but after three weeks, she couldn’t get one. She said she had visited GID three times to collect her passport but was asked to wait a few more days to collect her passport.

Mamanding Dibba, Public Relations Officer of the Gambia Immigration Department, declined to shed light on the matter after being questioned by our reporter. He, however, invited our reporter to his office next week to speak on the issue.

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