Upgraded Fiji Passport Delivery Delayed Until Late June

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Technical difficulties hinders production by suppliers

By Keresi Nauwakarawa

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, May 14, 2012) – Fiji's new passports which were to have arrived today, have been delayed further.

The Department of Immigration announced this afternoon that the 40,000 new passports will now arrive on June 20.

And the issuing of new passports will start on June 25. Director of Immigration Major Nemani Vuniwaqa says the new delay is due to technical reasons.

Vuniwaqa said they have 13,005 pending applications since August 2011, where 9,066 applications were made in Suva and 3,936 were made at overseas embassies and in the Western and Northern division offices.

"Unfortunately, Oberthur Technologies, the French suppliers have advised us of the delay and have sighted technical reasons as the reason behind the delay and change in dates of arrival of passports.

"The technical failure was the laminate paper. I understand that the paper was one off and is a special feature in the new passports."

[PIR editor’s note: Failure to deliver in a timely manner has raised concerns about the French company, which has refused to release a statement explaining the delay, according to the Fiji Sun. The report also claims Prime Minister Bainimarama and the government may seek action against the company as a result of delays.]

He said travelers can use emergency passports and certificate of identification in the meantime.

"We have 24,032 emergency passports and 398 certificate of identification as an option for those that want to travel provided that the government allows them to enter the country with these.

"We have approached and sought advice from the Solicitor General office as this delay is a breach of the agreement we have with Oberthur Technologies.

"We have recommended that government does not terminate the contract as the company needs to remedy the issue in two months as it will force us to begin the process again."

He admitted their office had been flooded with people who had expected to get their new passports today as promised.

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