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POST TIME: 10 October, 2019 12:53:17 AM
MRP booklet crisis hits passport seekers
DEEPAK ACHARJEE, Dhaka

MRP booklet crisis hits passport seekers

Many passport seekers, mostly expatriate Bangladeshis, are passing their days in uncertainty due to delay in delivery of their passports by the Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP). After failing to receive their machine readable passports (MRPs) from zonal offices, the applicants are now daily flocking to the DIP headquarters. Several applicants complained to The Independent that they were frustrated because the authorities concerned were not communicating about the current status of their new passports.

On their part, DIP sources said the delivery of passports was being delayed due to shortage of MRP booklets. After coming to know of the crisis, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday asked the director general (DG) of DIP to clarify the shortage of MRP booklets and why he had not taken steps in this regard.

The minister also told the DG to submit a work-plan of DIP for the next six months to the ministry at the earliest. The DIP DG, Maj. Gen. Md. Sohail Hossain Khan, said they were trying to tide over the crisis by issuing passports from their stock of MRP booklets. “

The issue of delay of MRPs was due to the non-introduction of e-passports in July,” Khan told The Independent. “A shipment of 20 lakh MRP booklets would reach the country very soon and it would meet the emergency demand,” he added. There are only 300,993 MRP booklets in the DIP’s warehouse now, whereas the daily demand is 20,000. This means that it will be possible for DIP to meet up the demands for MRPs for at least five months. And that’s why DIP needs to procure an additional 20 lakh MRP booklets and 20 lakh foils from De La Rue.

Earlier, the DIP DG had said that they will introduce e-passports from July on a limited scale. But it could not be implemented due to non-completion of infrastructure and failure to set up the required machines for the e-passport project.

According to DIP sources, the authorities are yet to complete the integration and migration of the data system for issuing e-passports instead of the existing MRPs.

Apart from this, the authorities are yet to set up two server rooms—one in Dhaka and another in Jessore—to restore the required data of the passport holders.

The authorities are yet to integrate the banking system with the five private banks for the online collection of e-passport fees from the applicants.

However, the finance ministry has advised DIP to use e-challan of the A2i project to collect the e-passport fees, the sources added.

Under the mega project worth Tk 4,569 crore, DIP will start issuing e-passports instead of MRPs with a 10-year validity. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with a German company in this regard during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to that country in February 2017.

Under the agreement, a passport booklet factory will be set up in Dhaka’s Uttara, where a six-storied printing building of DIP has been constructed. As part of the proposed project, three crore e-passports would be made and distributed among the existing MRP holders in the country.

Under the project, the German company will set up the required equipment at all Bangladeshi missions abroad and all passport offices in the country. At the same time, it will set up 50 e-gates at several immigration points at all international airports, seaports and land ports in the country.

The e-passport will be a biometric passport containing detailed features of the holder. It will have a microchip containing biometric information and the holder’s name, date of birth and other information.

MK