Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has strongly criticized personnel within the passport office, alleging their involvement in activities linked to corruption, which significantly dents the reputation of her office.
Speaking to reporters following a visit to the Passport Office, the minister expressed her displeasure about the continuous unlawful solicitation of funds from applicants by both passport employees and informal intermediaries, commonly referred to as “goro boys and girls,” with the intention of expediting passport processing services.
“I told my officers to put up an online system, now the online system is being manipulated so that people can make money off it. There are investigations going on, and some names have been mentioned. There’s a cartel of people who are working with people from inside. Anybody who has been here for more than one year, from Monday on, please do not come back because you have been changed.”
She added, “We want to bring some sanity. Every time, we say, politicians are corrupt, meanwhile, it is some public and civil servants who will do things that shouldn’t be done, and then they will be put it on politicians. We are trying to bring sanity into the system but no”.
A 2022 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) named passport agency officials among public officials who accept the most bribes in Ghana. Twenty-nine per cent of Passport officials were found to be involved in collecting bribes at an average of GHS392 each.
The minister also inndicated that investigations have commenced into the activities of the “goro boys,” who exploit applicants with the complicity of office personnel. She cautioned that those found culpable will face legal proceedings as a deterrent to others.
Minister Ayorkor Botchwey implored Passport Office staff to desist from engaging in extortionate practices. She enjoined them to uphold professional decorum, adhere to high standards of workmanship, and treat applicants with due respect.