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Manual passports will not be accepted by any airport in the world from mid-2015

The Bangladeshi embassy in UAE is outsourcing services as it struggles to meet demand while introducing passports with biometric data.

Five Bangladeshi typing centres, Janata Bank and Al Ansari Exchange have been enlisted to help as the embassy tries to replace the passports of 800,000 of its nationals in the UAE before an international deadline, according to Abu Dhabi-based The National.

The embassy is processing about 20,000 a month but will have to almost double that to replace the manual passports of all Bangladeshis in the country by the end of next year.

Manual passports will not be accepted by any airport in the world from mid-2015, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) says.

“We are considering outsourcing to five typing centres initially,” said Mohammed Husain, a counsellor at the embassy.

Mr Husain said applications would be outsourced from September 1 and the typing centres would have limited access to the embassy’s computer systems.

The embassy will put the names of the typing centres on a notice board next week.

About 1,500 Bangladeshis gathered at the embassy on Monday, which has become a common occurrence.

Among them was Mohammed Rashid, who arrived at 8am from Shahama and waited four hours to get his application processed.

“My passport expires September 2014 but I want a new passport before the deadline,” Mr Rashid said.

“I received a date for fingerprints for Wednesday. Today I submitted the fees.

“It’s taking too much time and we have to come back again and again.”

The queues have grown so long that residents and nearby schools have complained, which is partly why the embassy has taken the step to outsource.

“The mission is actively taking measures to resolve the issue,” Mr Husain said.

He said the crowds could be expected to grow even further as the deadline neared.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended outsourcing to typing centres.

The embassy has already hired three centres in Al Ain and is considering similar measures for Dubai and other emirates if it works in Abu Dhabi.

Fifty passport applications are being processed by the Al Ain typing centres each day.

The centres will take on many embassy duties such as receiving passport and visa applications, depositing fees and dealing with applications for birth certificates.

Typing centres will be asked to fill out application forms on an embassy system and then submit them, removing some of the manual uploading from the embassy’s workload.

In addition to the government fee for new passports or other services, a fee of Dh30 for each transaction is being considered.

Another Bangladeshi waiting in line at the embassy on Monday was Usman Ali, whose passport expired in June.

“I came from Al Ain to the mission for the biometric appointment today at 2pm,” Mr Ali said.

“I will feel happy as soon as I get the new version of the passport back as already mine expired, though my residency is valid until next year.”

Bangladeshis will have to keep their handwritten passports until it is time to renew their visa.

Abu Dhabi resident Nazrul Islam also complained about the time it takes to process.

“It takes too much time – I have to come here four times to complete the process,” Mr Islam said.

“My passport is going to expire next month, so I want to replace it with the new, digital one.

“My biometric details were scanned today so I hope to get the new passport back in a month’s time.”

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Quelle/Source: Dhaka Tribune, 20.08.2013

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