Govt silent on passport printer delays
Construction worker's Canada course cancelled due to lack of passport
By Owain Johnston-Barnes
Passport printing problems at the Department of Immigration have allegedly cost one Bermudian an overseas training opportunity.
Hans Bruun said he was assured he would receive a new passport by October 17, in time to leave the Island on a flight to Toronto today.
Instead he received a call on October 17 saying his passport would not be ready in time.
“I know things break down, but they could have given me a waiver or something,” Mr Bruun said. “I guess I'm just not that important. I'm just a taxpayer.”
The BCM McAlpine worker said he was one of three employees selected earlier this month to go through a training workshop in Toronto regarding locks to be installed in the new hospital building.
He said the course would train the three how to put together the locks, so they could pass the knowledge to other Bermudian workers involved in the project.
However, when he returned home, he discovered his passport had expired.
Mr Bruun said he delivered his expired passport to Government offices on October 7 and was relieved to be told he would have a new passport by October 17.
“They said they would call me when they knew it was ready,” he said. “When I delivered it, I specifically told them that this is an emergency. I need to know I can get it because my employer needed to book tickets for me. They said no problem, I would get it on the 17th.”
Instead of receiving a passport on October 17, he received a phone call explaining that there was a “technical problem” and his passport would not be ready.
He was eventually told the printer used to make the passports had broken and they didn't know when it would be working again.
“I tried calling the next day. I even got my boss involved to check the matters out, but nothing has been resolved and it's the day before I was supposed to leave,” he said yesterday.
“I asked about a waiver, but she said there was not a chance I could get one. Now I've had to call my boss and tell them to cancel so at least they can get some of their money back.”
He said he had attempted to reach out to Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy but had been unsuccessful.
“I'm upset that my own country let me down like that,” he said. “Yes, I know I should have checked my passport was in order sooner.
“I'm wrong there, but if they told me there was a problem with the printer sooner, I probably could have gotten a waiver.
“When they told me I could pick up my passport on the 17th, I was so happy. I was overjoyed.
“I relied on that, but then they tell me there's no way I can get it for [my flight]. They wouldn't even tell me the thing broke down at first.”
A Ministry of Home Affairs spokeswoman confirmed yesterday there was a problem with the printing of passports, but no further information was provided as of press time last night.
The Department of Immigration said in June it was having technical difficulties printing passports, causing some delays. However, a spokeswoman said the department would continue to receive passport applications and make every attempt to issue the documents within eight working days.
*Has your travel been affected by passport printing problems? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org