Passport adventures


Tales from Jamaican bureaucracy: This morning we awoke at 5am to head to the passport office to secure a passport for my daughter. (She already has a Canadian passport, but is landed in Jamaica as a “visitor” because she does not have her Jamaican passport, even though she was born here).

My husband arrived at 5:45 am, only to discover EIGHTY-FIVE people were ahead of him in line. They must have slept there or arrived at 2 or 3 a.m.!! After a quick conversation with a supervisor, we were told we could go in the “special needs” line, as we have an infant. So we were processed in Line 1, where we presented our documents in a small, air-conditioned room in a temporary building with chairs so tightly packed one can hardly move around. We both showed our identification and were sent to Line 2 in another temporary building, again where the chairs are so tightly packed one can hardly move (fire hazard, surely), where we waited until the workers arrived at 7:30 a.m.

Then we were moved into Line 3, upon which my husband and I had to part ways, as only the applicant on the form can enter the building. I waited outside with my daughter and diaper bag. I was told I could not stand outside, I had to sit in the waiting area. After a short while, we were told our pictures were wrong, so we dashed next door to take the right size. I was then allowed in the building to ensure our forms were filled in correctly. Ultimately, we hope to have a passport by Friday.

I’m not certain why the process is the way it is. It must have made sense at one time, but now it is incredibly inefficient and demands that people take hours, possibly the whole day, to obtain a document that is rightfully theirs, that they pay taxes for. They miss time off work, children miss time from school. It is a demeaning experience to be shuttled around to different lines, with no end in sight, where the security guards are rude and the workers harried and harassed. Bureaucracy is unpleasant anywhere, needless to say.

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