In recent times, the Central Regional Passport Office in Cape Coast, Ghana, has become a hotbed of controversy, as middlemen, commonly known as ‘Goro Boys,’ are thriving in spite of public outrage and the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ outcry over corruption in passport application centers.
GhanaWeb’s investigative efforts have uncovered a disconcerting rise in the activities of these middlemen, who, alongside certain officials within the passport office, have been charging exorbitant fees to expedite passport processing. Unfortunately, this practice has negatively impacted countless applicants who visit the office every day in hopes of securing this essential document.
The Goro Boys’ Exploits
These unauthorized middlemen have set up shop, quite literally, in and around the passport office, making use of containers and stores to conduct their illicit transactions, including printing and altering passport dates. They offer applicants the promise of obtaining their passports within a week or two for a hefty fee ranging from GHC1,000 to GHC1,600. To make matters worse, some civil service workers who share premises with the passport office have reportedly assumed pivotal roles in these unlawful transactions, leveraging their positions to peddle influence or facilitate the process at exorbitant rates.
Even the Regional Information Service Department (ISD) office has not been spared, as it has been transformed into an annex of the passport office, receiving scores of applicants daily. Our investigation revealed that this office is consistently bustling with applicants seeking assistance with the online application process, further underscoring the high demand for expedited services.
An Insider’s Perspective
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one applicant shared her experience, revealing that she was charged GHC2,000 by a middleman but managed to negotiate it down to GHC1,500 for a faster processing time. She received her passport within the promised timeframe. However, her friend, who couldn’t afford to pay the fee, is still struggling to obtain her passport months after beginning the process. The first applicant called upon the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to implement measures that would cleanse the system of corruption and favor all citizens.
Office Denials and Promises
In response to these allegations, Mr. Micheal Asante, the Regional Director of the passport office, denied any involvement of Goro boys among his staff. He acknowledged the presence of middlemen in the vicinity but insisted that they were not affiliated with his office. He emphasized the office’s dedication to resolving these challenges and streamlining the passport application process.
Mr. Asante also encouraged applicants to initiate the online registration process before visiting the office for biometrics and other necessary steps. Furthermore, he issued a stern warning to those engaged in Goro activities, cautioning them to cease their actions or face legal consequences.
In conclusion, the situation at the Cape Coast Passport Office underscores the urgent need for comprehensive reform and tighter regulation to eliminate corrupt practices and ensure fair access to passport services for all citizens. It’s a reminder that transparency, accountability, and efficiency should be the cornerstones of any government service, particularly those as crucial as passport issuance. The hope is that, with proper measures in place, the people of Cape Coast and Ghana at large can access passport services without falling victim to exploitation by middlemen.