Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) as hundreds and possibly in the thousands descended to get their new passports! It was so full that people were everywhere on the compound and even large tents were constructed to house only a fraction of the crowd! But why this great rush for for passports? Well the government announced on Tuesday of this week that effective Monday November 17, the fee for obtaining passports will see increases ranging from eighty percent to as much as three hundred and eight percent! this means that the cost of an adult passport will move from JM$2500 to JM$4500 and for minors JM$1500 to JM$2700. But if your passport is lost or stolen and you need to replace it, you are in fo a shocking increase! The fee for replacing a passport in such circumstances will jump from JM$2500 to a whopping JM$9500! So make sure you keep your passport under some serious lock and key!
So with this announcement, hundreds of Jamaicans descended on the passport office in a bid to cash in on the last of the low prices before the new fees take effect. Yours truly Stunner was also one of the members of this large throng of people trying to avoid the increase in fees. When I arrived at the passport office at about midday I was shocked by the sheer number of people there in hopes of getting their new passport, so I proceeded to the desk at the side of the building and after having my documents checked i was issued a number H84. Hmm, H4 shouldn't be so bad, so i went and asked one of the passport office staff what number are they processing and was told they were in the low B's! What, that mean I had hundreds of people as the tickets were numbered [Letter A-J][01-99]! With that in mind I decided I would go about my business until they close the gate at 3:30pm. I came back to the passport office at 3:40pm and was still greeted by a huge crown which seemed to have only increased since I was last there! However, determined to get my passport I decided to stay, and stay I did. I waited and waited until the day progressed from a brightly lit afternoon to dark night as my number wasn't called until approximately 6:40pm! After going into the office itself, I spend about 20 minutes to get processed, basically a whole day combined!
According to The Gleaner's website, the crowd at the passport office has not subsided but is even larger than it was yesterday! It is so bad that according to the report, three police units have been deployed to the passport office to aid the private security company to maintain order! judging from yesterday, I can just imagine what that crowd looks like today and fear to even imagine what it will look like on Friday! I am sure the passport office will make more than their Christmas money between Wednesday and Friday! But it is terrible to see that the government as well as employers are cutting back on increases and cutting jobs, yet government fees and the prices of goods and services are skyrocketing! As Buju said, "What more unuh want... people fi do?", thing rough and they are getting rougher. If you plan to get your passport before the fee increases, I wish you well!
Sources: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20091110/lead/lead5.html, http://go-jamaica.com/news/read_article.php?id=14273