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Home Affairs to tackle long queues

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Excessively long queues, bad service and a long turnaround time have become a headache for people going to the Department of Homes Affairs, but officials say this will soon be a thing of the past. Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba launched the “War on Queues” campaign yesterday, as part of efforts to ensure that clients who visit Home Affairs offices are served in in a dignified manner. The minister is on a quest to deal with the long queues, by directing his department to prepare a comprehensive report and strategy to manage the long queues. In recent weeks, VOC has received some complaints about the lack of service for elderly and wheelchair bound residents at DHA offices in the Western Cape, particularly in Wynberg and Mitchells Plain.

“The war on queues is an intervention to deal with all the complains we got from clients. You would probably remember the time when home affairs was referred to as horror affairs. One of the successes that home affairs have had over the years is they have improved the turnaround time; we need to shift that success to another level, where people don’t spend an entire day at Home Affairs,” said minister’s spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete.

He explained that currently there are 400 Home Affairs offices to serve 50 000 people. Its believed that fake news reports of the discontinuation of the green, barcoded ID contributed to the high volumes of clients flocking to Home Affairs over the past few months.

There are short-term action plans such as getting contact centres to work optimally, and finding a solution to dealing with “unpredictable” walk –in clients is being put in place.

“There are a number of issues that are management issues, such as assisting pregnant women and elderly waiting in queues. There is a policy that states they need preference. We need to intervene on issues of bad management,” he said.

He also explained that the department would also explore possibilities of a new shift system, attend to the unstable computer system, improve workflow and beef up communication with clients.

A report on immediate interventions in Orlando West, Wynberg in Alexandra, Pietermaritzburg, Centurion, East London and Umgeni offices, showed reductions in waiting times  Visits to the four offices by Executive Committee members and Provincial Managers will be conducted in the week he added.

The department will be driving out the one-stop workstation that takes fingerprints and photographs, as a multiple streamline process. This will significantly reduce the time clients that are currently spending at the Home Affairs offices.

The 78 mobile units which are being refurbished by the second half of 2018 will be deployed nationwide.

One of the best solutions to complement and cut down on time spend, is having the four major banks assist with the Smart ID cards. There is now a process for the banks Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank to have the E-Home Affairs services in their branches, he added.

“Ultimately, we stand committed to do the best we can to win the all-out war on queues bedeviling our operations. It will be a process that we remain committed to despite budgetary constraints,” he ended.

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