‘Severe overcrowding and delays’ across Sudan’s passport offices

Chaos at the Argeen border crossing in Northern Sudan in late April. "It's chaos, people are sleeping in the open. No shade during the day" (social media)

Residents of El Gedaref complained earlier this week of severe overcrowding in the city’s passport extraction centre, leading to processing delays. Passport processing currently takes up to three weeks in El Gedaref, and over a month in Kassala.

An applicant in El Gedaref, Bashir El Sadig, told Radio Dabanga that the procedures for applying and extracting passports take three weeks. “Applicants are forced to reach the extraction centre at 5:00 and wait until 11:00 to receive the forms,” he explained.

“The fees for obtaining passports amount to SDG141,000 for adult, and SDG105,000 for children. No financial receipt is provided.”

El Sadig continued, “Many suffer due to the long hours at the passport centre, living in tents they’ve prepared for this purpose. Those arriving from outside the city are forced to stay in hotels for prolonged periods of times, costing them huge sums.”

Applicants in the city of Kassala confirmed reports of severe congestion at the Passport Department’s offices, where procedures currently take over a month to be completed.

Earlier this month, economic analyst Kamal Karar suggested that the large increase in passport issuance fees was an attempt to “blackmail people and exploit their need for passports in order to escape the hell of war, in search of a better life”.

Karar said that the increase cannot be justified, arguing the government has “begun to act like parasitic brokers and merchants”.

Technical training

Police spokesperson Brig El Fateh attributed the procedural delays to uncontrolled crowds that occurred in both cities, as well as the staff’s unfamiliarity with the modern operating systems.

El Fateh referred to “the training of officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers, on data entry, payment of fees and fingerprints”. He explained that the process of transferring passports is carried out by a company contracting with the General Directorate of Passports to deliver mail.

El Fateh explained to Radio Dabanga that the police will announce the dates for the resumption of the issuance of the national number and passports in North Darfur’s capital of El Fasher soon.

“The El Fasher centre will provide service to all applicants in Darfur. Passports will be printed in Port Sudan and transported via a convoy to El Fasher.”

He said that the mechanical devices required for operating the El Fasher centre arrived in North Kordofan’s capital of El Obeid on Tuesday via a convoy, and will be operated within one day upon arrival.