The Department of Home Affairs has extended operating times at front offices and ports of entry to ease congestion associated with the festive season.

Home Affairs Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi said operating hours at front offices will be extended by two and a half hours from 08h00 to 17h30, starting Monday (13 December) to 30 December 2021 to deal with the high demand for services.

This extension period excludes weekends, public holidays, 17 and 24 December 2021, it said.

The minister has also extended operating hours at some of the busiest Ports of Entry (POE) by between two and seven hours, making some of them operate for 24 hours. This is to enable the continuous processing of truck drivers. Other travelers will be processed during the hours that fall outside the curfew, it said.

“Our offices and ports of entry usually receive high numbers of people during the festive season, partly because that is when most people have time to look for services or to travel.

“The temporary extension is therefore aimed at giving people more time to come to our offices or be processed through our borders in a safe manner, taking into account that Covid-19 is still with us,” said Motsoaledi.

He encouraged those who applied for their IDs more than two weeks ago to come and collect their documents at the offices where they made their applications.

In the past two months, the department issued 206,254 Unabridged Birth Certificates, processed 187,813 ID applications, registered 129,324 births, and issued 116,049 death certificates. These are the services that were in high demand during the past two months. The department said it will offer all Home Affairs services during this extension period.

The only people who will be sent home are those who arrive after 17h30. Everybody who arrives before 17:30 should be served and not turned away.

The Minister extended operating hours at the Oshoek border with Eswatini by seven hours from 10 December to 31 January 2022 and at the Lebombo border with Mozambique by six hours from 9 December 2021 to 10 January 2022.  The extension means that both ports are now operating for 24 hours during the approved periods.

Beit Bridge and Maseru Bridge are already operating for 24 hours, the department said.

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SOURCE: BusinessTech