Pakistan News

Hiccup in network draws ire of passport seekers

Hiccup in network draws ire of passport seekers

LAHORE: Thousands of passport applicants in Pakistan and abroad had to face a great deal of inconvenience after the central online link of the National Database and Registration Authority remained disconnected with the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports Islamabad for about two hours on Wednesday.

During a visit to the Garden Town Regional Passport Office, Lahore, which is also linked online with all district and tehsil level passport centres in Punjab, it was revealed that the applicants kept waiting for at least two hours after 12pm to further process their applications.

The breakdown in online data has become a regular feature of passport offices nowadays as Nadra and passport authorities have hardly opted for up-gradation of their IT system and back-ups as alternative arrangements.

An official in the IT section of the Garden Town Office told Dawn that the link turned offline for more than one and a half hours after data of applicants from Nadra got suspended from the main server of the DG&IP.

He said the disruption from Nadra always led to the temporary breakdown of passport process across the country and foreign missions.

The official said the suspension in online link from Nadra, which took place at fourth step of data entry, could possibly have occurred because of sole reliance on PTCL optic fiber and Nadra’s interlinking with other departments for data access.

He said sometimes the data uploading failed from the DG&IP office which disrupted passport process partially.

Many applicants out of total 730 had to wait for more than five hours to complete their process comprising six steps at Lahore office.

“I have been waiting for my turn at last process counter of interview & decision despite the fact I got token at 10am. The applicants have been told to wait for some time as online system has suspended,” said Muhammad Zubair of Nishtar Colony.

Zubair, who visited the office along with his sister, also complained that air-conditioning system did not work well and bracket-fans failed to lessen the impact of humidity because of extraordinary rush.

Riaz from Dharampura said he came to the office around 10:30am for processing his passport earlier and left temporarily around 12:30pm after officials complained of disruption in uploading of data.

“I came back around 2:30pm to get into the process again,” Riaz said, adding the authorities must upgrade online system and provide smooth services in return for millions of rupees revenue collected in the form of passport fee.

Aamir Zafar of Samanabad said lack of sitting capacity forced applicants including women and children to either stand or sit on the floor.

“As soon as the link with Nadra was normalised, applicants awaiting their turn thronged the two process counters for data entry,” Zafar said, adding the shortage of staff at process counters appeared to be another cause of the mess.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2015

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