JOHOR BAHRU: Passport applicants are having to face long queues and long waiting times from early morning at the home ministry (KDN) complex at Setia Tropika here.
Many of them decided to go to the complex early with the hope to beat the crowd and did not have time to have breakfast, only to find many others were already in long queues at the entrance of the complex.
One of them, Nur Hazwan Sharifulazman, 37, said that he came today to inquire about his passport renewal which was done online. Although he arrived as early as 7.50am, there was already a queue of about 400m from the entrance of the complex.
Hazwan, a facility manager in Singapore for the past six years, said people had to get a queue number at the entrance before being allowed to enter the complex. Then they had to pick up another queue number at the relevant counter.
“Around 8am, an immigration officer began handing out queue numbers and I was lucky enough to get the number.”
He had to wait for four hours, from 8am to 12 noon, to enter the building, and then get another queue number to go to the immigration office.
Hazwan said the queue management system should be improved to ease the process as senior citizens as well as parents with small children were waiting.
Nasiruddin Md Nazim, 31, who was at the complex regarding his passport renewal, said he was thankful that a Good Samaritan gave him bread and a drink as he did not have time to have breakfast.
“Although the process to renew the passport was done online, we have to collect the passport at the counter. I came today to ask for information on whether my passport is ready, as it has not been confirmed yet,” said Nasiruddin who has been working as a barista at a restaurant in Singapore since 2011.
Several video clips and photographs have circulated on social media showing long queues outside the complex.
Johor menteri besar Onn Hafiz Ghazi, who went to check on the situation at the complex this morning said the problem had existed from May 1.
He said he had asked the state immigration director Baharuddin Tahir to meet him today.
Baharuddin, when met by reporters at the complex today, said the huge crowd comprised people wishing to renew their international passports following the reopening of the country’s borders on April 1.
Some of them also had affairs in other departments such as the national registration department which was also housed in the complex.
He added that before the reopening of the borders, an average of 700 international passports were issued every day. The number increased to 1,000 a day in April. In May, up to 1,800 passports were issued daily.
Baharuddin said nine other passport offices in the state were affected, including the Mersing office which has only two to three counters.
He said he had explained to the menteri besar about initiatives to improve passport processing.
“The menteri besar agreed to help by setting up tents and providing chairs and fans for people waiting,” he said.
The department would also assign officers and personnel as early as 4.30am to distribute the queue numbers.
Onn Hafiz, in a Facebook posting, said one of the solutions was to improve and simplify the process of getting the queue number and provide a more comfortable waiting area for the public.
He said the Urban Transformation Centre at Kota Raya and Pasir Gudang will operate from 8am to 10pm daily. Immigrations offices will also stay open until 10pm while office operations on Saturdays will be from 8am to 12.30pm.