Upon hearing of a breakdown in the system of issuing passports, with long lines and people once again paying others for processing their passports, an angry President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Monday visited the Passport Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to see the situation first-hand.
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf cautioned the Director of the Passport Division, Mrs. Tennema Deline, about the inefficiencies and of going back to the old habits. She recalled that, under former Passport Director Mary Broh, it used to take only 48 hours to issue passports, now it was now taking weeks.
The President demanded immediate corrective actions to address the long lines of people waiting for passports, as well as the practice of applicants once again paying staff for service.
Continuing her surprise tour, the President stopped on the first floor of the Foreign Ministry, having been informed that some staff were operating a cookshop on the premises, right down the hall from the cafeteria.
Accusing the staff of turning a government office into a restaurant, and of selling food when they were supposed to be working, the President summoned the Deputy Minister for Administration (DMA), Mrs. Una Thompson, and ordered her to shut down the operation. She also instructed the DMA to clean up the bottlenecks in the Passport Division, which appeared to be reverting to its old ways, and to identify a particular official who had accepted money for passports.
Reacting, Mrs. Thompson apologized and assured the President that it would not happen again. When told by the President that she had visited the Passport Division and that it had reverted to the old system of doing things, Mrs. Thompson said she would be assembling the legal team to address the concerns and clean up the problem.