The government has made a strong case for the relocation of the passport office to allow for the construction of the National Cathedral. It says the planned relocation and the building of the cathedral coincidentally come at a time when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is already moving to acquire an ultra-modern facility to roll out its chip-embedded passport application in 2020.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Charles Owiredu said both the relocation and the amount involved are in order.
“A decision has been made to construct a national cathedral and as a result of that, some government institutions will have to be moved. Prior to this, the government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also looking for an opportunity to be expanding some of the facilities at the Passport Office. Next year, we will be rolling a chip-embedded passport. And with this, it will require additional security measures. So when this matter came, we said why don’t we take advantage of this, and really get a place, get more rooms and enhance security. With the figure mentioned, it is a planned budget and we are still going through the process, companies are bidding and they are yet to present the technical report which will be sent to the PPA for approval. So as we speak, no contract has been awarded yet.”
The relocation of the passport office has already been met with stiff opposition particularly from the Minority in Parliament.
The procurement processes to select a contractor for the National Cathedral is expected to be concluded by the end of 2019.
The Board of Trustees for the National Cathedral has also said that the March deadline is to allow it finalize the paperwork for the project after having supervised the demolition of structures within the earmarked area for the construction of the cathedral.
But, Mr. Owiredu further defended the decision saying:
“We want to replicate the state of the facility and the passport delivery system like the one in Hungary. So we are not going to use too much space but rather, hi-tech machines to produce quality products. That is exactly what we want to do. We have not acquired any big space, it is just a small space where the kind of equipment to be used will use certain facilities that will have to be enhanced. The equipment has some security features that require certain room space.”
Relocating Passport Office for Nat’l Cathedral with GHS9.2m not prudent – Ablakwa
Ranking Member of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and Member of Parliament of North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is shocked that the government is to spend GHS9.2 million to relocate the passport office.
According to Mr. Ablakwa, the amount to be used for the planned relocation of the passport office is not a judicious use of the country’s scarce resources.
“We in the Minority strongly believe that, if the President strongly feels that, he should build a national cathedral, he should site this cathedral at the many encumbered lands all over the country. For a really poor country like Ghana where we cannot even find enough resources to take care of our secondary school students. There are a lot of Regional capitals that do not have Passport application centres. So if we can find GHS9.2 million, there are so many things we can do with that money in terms of National Pride. We don’t need to spend that money to relocate the Passport Office. We shouldn’t be pulling down that building and spending another GHS 9.2 million in relocating that building alone. We insist that the President hasn’t been prudent to pull structures to cite the National Cathedral when we are struggling with so many things.”