Gov’t commissions $57.5M Berbice Immigration Office
The Government on Thursday commissioned a new $57.5M Immigration office in Canje, New Amsterdam, East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six).
Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon reaffirmed Government’s commitment to decentralising and improving access to Government services for every Guyanese.
At the simple ceremony, DG Harmon said Government has a responsibility to ensure that State services are available to all citizens, regardless of geographic location, political affiliation or any other factor – one of its 2015 campaign promises.
“Minister Winston Felix…has gone on a crusade to ensure that the vision of the President is actually put into practice. He has restructured and reorganised not only the Central Passport Office but the way also in which we deal with birth certificates. No longer can you just walk into somewhere and print a birth certificate and turn up somewhere with it. All of our systems started to receive reviewing and revamping and I want to commend the Department of Citizenship for the job they have done,” he said.
The Director-General noted that it is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that these basic services are provided to the citizenry and it is a responsibility this administration takes seriously.
Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix, in providing a background to the completion of the office, said that when the administration assumed office in 2015, the Police was tasked with receiving applications for passports in the East Berbice- Corentyne region.
He noted that this process was extremely slow and therefore, many persons left as far as the Corentyne and journeyed to Georgetown from as early as 2am to line up at the Camp Road, Eve Leary office.
“A visit was paid to the crowded Central Immigration and Passport Office during an afternoon period and interviews were done following which it was discovered that the majority of persons awaiting service were from Regions Five and Six. This triggered the thought of decentralising the Passport Office to areas outside of Georgetown,” he said.
He said on July 15, 2019, the building was put into operation to test the equipment and the efficiency of the staff. They have responded admirably to the task.
From July 2019 to date, the New Amsterdam office has accepted and processed 6,122 applications for passports, which are handled within seven working days.
Minister Felix noted that in addition to the cost of the building, the office has been outfitted with equipment to the tune of US$3, 512, 760.
Meanwhile, Regional Executive Officer of the East Berbice- Corentyne region, Mrs. Kim Williams- Stephens in brief remarks, praised the development which she noted will be of significant benefit to residents.
“Having such a service has been impactful not only to the residents of this region but also our neighbouring region. Apart from the obvious benefits such as saving money, time is also saved. Citizens no longer have to travel to Georgetown to receive this essential service. This is part of the Government’s vision of building empowered, sustainable, strong communities, towns and regions. It has also provided employment opportunities to persons within this region,” she noted.
The Immigration office is currently managed by nine staff members and will be outfitted in coming weeks with solar panels for energy generation.
Minister of Education, Dr. Nicolette Henry, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Mr. Jaipaul Sharma and Foreign Secretary, Mr. Carl Greenidge were also in attendance. (Extracted and Modified from the Ministry of the Presidency)