A $57.5M Immigration office in Canje, New Amsterdam, East Berbice-Corentyne was commissioned on Thursday, February 13, 2020. Speaking at the ceremony, Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Mr. Joseph Harmon, mentioned that this is part of the Government’s commitment to decentralising and improving access to Government services.
“When we first came into office, the President met with Minister Winston Felix and myself and gave us some clear directions on what he sees to be the services that should be available to the Guyanese public, especially with regard to passports and birth certificates. Since then, the Minister 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,” Mr. Harmon said.
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,” Mr Felix said.
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.
According to Min. Felix, in addition to the cost of the building, equipment for its operation has amounted to US$3,512,760.
Meanwhile, Regional Executive Officer of the East Berbice- Corentyne region, Mrs. Kim Williams- Stephens in her 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… 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.