Some officers at the Georgetown Passport Office think Guyanese have time to waste
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Dear editor,
IF Guyana is to make some headway in the services industry, a serious look should be taken at the services offered at some of our critical government agencies. Primarily, when we think about or speak about the services industry we think about tourism, restaurants, and other things of that nature.

Many government agencies have, for years, been chastised for the way persons desirous of conducting business are treated. My recent experience at the Georgetown Passport Office over the past few days has not only left a bitter taste in my mouth, but it has also further lessened my confidence in the professionalism of some of the persons paid to effectively serve persons on behalf of the Government of Guyana. I am therefore issuing a call to those in authority to investigate the way persons visiting this critical office are advised.

For the past few days, I’ve been attempting to renew my daughter’s passport as she is due to travel soon. Last Thursday, before journeying there, I made several attempts to call the office on the number I got from a Google search to get some information on what documents I’d need in the absence of her father but, as is the case when calling many of these organisations, the number rang out. After calling for close to two hours I was left with no other choice but to go down there myself.

Last Friday morning I visited the passport office with the documents I had. When I got there, the officer at the door said I would need to get a copy of her father’s ID, along with a letter of authorisation from him to process the passport. I asked the officer what should the authorisation entail and does it have to be authorised by a Justice of Peace or a Notary. He answered in the negative and proceeded to state what should be included in the document. He then told me that it could be written or typed but that it would have to be signed by her father.

Based on the information I was given, I left the office and proceeded to have that done. I returned later that day with the additional document and was told to take a seat inside. When I got to the counter, the officer behind the glass took my documents, examined them, and said that I would need to have the authorisation letter notarised. I became frustrated. I informed the officer that I’d asked the officer at the door if the document had to be notarised and he said no.

There was nothing I could do at that point, so I left there and proceeded to make arrangements to have the document notarised.

Documents in hand, I returned to the passport office on Tuesday afternoon only to be told that the authorisation wasn’t done correctly. At this point, two officers at the passport office had examined my documents on two separate occasions. Both of them failed to inform me that there was a specific format in which this had to be done. I was beyond frustrated at this point because both my time and money had been wasted. The female officer at the door who collected my documents (the only one who I think acted professionally in this ordeal) went into the building to speak with a senior officer.

I assume after speaking with him, I was invited to take a seat by the female officer. When the alleged senior officer came to me, he too explained that the document was incorrectly worded and that there was a specific format in which it had to be done. I questioned why it was that during my prior visits to the office I wasn’t advised correctly? Without any empathy, the young man basically said that he was a supervisor and that he was now advising me. While expressing my dissatisfaction about being ill-advised on several occasions, the officer said “anyone with sense can see that this document is not right and that a specimen was on the wall. You can use your phone and take a picture of it.”

Mr. Editor, because of my profession, I deal with different people with different attitudes every day. I understand that people invest their time and resources to get things done and that expressing empathy when people’s time is wasted is important. When the fault is on your end, the wronged should be issued an apology. At no [time] during our interaction did this officer apologise for the time and resources wasted because I was ill-advised on two separate occasions by officers under his command as he claimed to be a supervisor. Moreover, to state that “anyone with sense could see that the document was wrong…” implies that the officers who examined the document before he did do not have any sense also.

Once again I am calling on those in authority to look into the way persons are advised when visiting these offices. If the people who are tasked with engaging persons on a daily basis do not pull themselves together, the organisation as a whole will continue to face heavy criticism, and the phrase ‘only in Guyana’ will always precede negative comments as a result of a bad experience.

Yours truly,
Janell Cameron

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