The Botswana passport is said to be facing fresh global risks and the government may again increase the fee for a lost passport.
Following last week’s call by the government of Botswana to the British government not to impose visa requirements on Batswana and to curb passport loss and theft, the Botswana government is considering imposing stiffer penalties on those who seek to replace stolen or lost passports.
The government is of the view that criminals will be targeting Botswana passports as some SADC countries, including South Africa, have had visa restrictions imposed on them because of the high level of crime.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard, the Permanent Secretary of Labour and Home Affairs, Segakweng Tsiane, said Botswana passports will again be facing increased global risk after the British government decides not to impose visa requirement on Batswana.
She explained that sometime last year, a British government official visited Botswana to check on a number of things and to see how our passports are being issued.
After the visit, they reportedly advised the ministry on how to improve the security of Botswana passports to make it more difficult for criminals to forge or temper with them one way or the other.
“I am happy now to announce that last week the British government decided to impose visa requirements but this is a temporary permit which will last for only six months.”
She said basically the six months period means that the requirements that were proposed should be implemented within that period but if they fail, it simply means that visas will be imposed on Batswana when visiting Britain and getting that visa would be very costly.
“However, my ministry is busy insuring that the new designed passport that is machine readable, computerized and is expected to cost government huge amounts of money is produced on time,” said Tsiane. “I cannot say yes or no to whether my ministry will impose stiffer penalties on those who lose their passports but if the number of reported lost passports continues to increase then we do not have a choice.”
Tsiane further said that since the introduction of penalties amounting to P1 000 on those who had lost their passports, the number of passports reported lost or stolen dropped and they are receiving a good number of lost and found passports.
“This is very encouraging and shows that Batswana are now taking care of their passports,” she said.
She appealed to the public that in order not to be slapped with visa restrictions, the public should take extra care and look after their passports.
Botswana passports are reportedly sold for about P25 000 on the black market, mostly in Asia.
A number of local immigration officers were also implicated as part of the criminal syndicate.