The nagging MRP issue
THIS paper has highlighted the plight of our expatriate workers over the non-issuance of machine readable passports (MRPs) a number of times. In a last ditch effort to get MRPs rolling off in acceptable numbers, the authorities have decided to increase the capacity of our missions abroad to issue the document. The contracting company IRIS has repeatedly failed to live up to contractual obligations on delivering the MRPs on time despite several time extensions. We wonder why the government did not cancel the contract when there was time and today our expatriate workers who bring in much needed foreign exchange are in a real bind.
With the fate of an estimated 3.7million expatriates hanging in the balance, there is no time to be lost here. The International Civil Aviation Orgranisation (ICAO) has set November 24 as the deadline for migration with the new document. After that deadline expires, hand-written passports carried by these expatriates may not be deemed as legal documents. That is the bottom line. Interesting to note that presently 2.5million expatriates living in various countries are yet to get MRPs and this failure cannot be placed squarely or IRIS alone. The Department of Immigration has been foot-dragging on bringing IRIS to book and the issuance of new MRPs has been allowed to drag on over the past one year. This lack of action has been inexcusable. However, we thank the authorities for coming to their senses, even belatedly, in taking steps to speed up the process in our foreign missions.