No go even for the early birds

KUALA LUMPUR: The globetrotter in Malaysians shows no sign of slowing down, with many still swarming Immigration Department offices to renew or apply for passports.

A check at the Immigration office in Wangsa Maju found that the queue numbers were all given out by 9.15am yesterday.

Many people started lining up as early 7.30am to get a number, with those arriving at 8am running out of luck.

Disappointed at not being able to get a number in Wangsa Maju, first-time applicant Ekin Amran, 38, from Batu Caves, Selangor, headed to the nearest office at UTC Keramat in Taman Datuk Keramat here.

“I queued for an hour, but as soon as I reached the counter, at about 9.10am, they were no longer distributing the numbers.

“So, I came to UTC Keramat, which was the nearest I could find because I am planning to travel to Thailand soon. For first-time applicants, we cannot do via online, we have to apply in person.

“I anticipated the crowd because it has been like this for a while, but it would be nice if they can provide more seating because we are all over the place, with some even sitting on the floor,” she said.

A senior citizen who only wanted to be known as Fong came from Taman Tun Dr Ismail to renew his passport at UTC Keramat.

He was given a number from the quota allocated for those aged 60 and above.

“I just walked in at 10am because I heard renewals at UTCs are faster.

“My passport expired during the Covid-19 period, so it is time to renew it.

“I do see a lot of counters but fewer officers; perhaps if there are more, it can speed up the applications,” he said.

Another first-time applicant Liyana Afiqah, 25, came early at 8am to get hers done.

“I just took my chances and came here because I heard the process at UTCs is usually faster.

“I have been waiting for two hours, but I anticipated the long wait.

“So, I am just going to wait for my turn because there are many people who also want to renew or apply for their passports,” she said.

On Jan 7, the department announced that it has revised its operation hours with immediate effect for all offices and branches, which will open from 8am to 7pm, though those in Perlis, Pahang, Kedah and Terengganu are open from 8am to 5pm.

Several offices are also open on Saturday from 8am to 12.30pm, such as at Menara Ikhlas, Putrajaya, Jalan Duta and Wangsa Maju in Kuala Lumpur, Shah Alam, Kelana Jaya, Kajang and Puchong in Selangor, Setia Tropika and Kulai in Johor, as well as Seberang Jaya in Penang.

UTC operation hours are from 8am to 9pm on weekdays and 8am to 5pm on weekends, except for UTCs in Perlis, Pahang, Kedah and Terengganu, which are open from 8am to 5pm on all days.

Last month, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the department is looking at a new method to speed up passport applications, while also acknowledging that some places still have long queues due to the high number of applications.

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