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Zimbos face travel difficulties

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VICTORIA FALLS — Zimbabweans travelling outside the country are likely to encounter difficulties if the government fails to introduce an electronic passport in the next three years.

Report by Richard Muponde

This was disclosed on Wednesday at  the on-going three-day  International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regional seminar on Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTD’s), Biometrics and Border Security in Victoria Falls.

Countries attending the ICAO seminar were given up to 2015 to introduce e-passports, failure which holders of non-e-passports would find it difficult to travel internationally.

“In-order to accommodate those States issuing 10-year passports, all non-e-passports will expire before November 24 2015. Furthermore, non-e-passports are more susceptible to document fraud,  these passports will come under close scrutiny and their holders increasingly subject to secondary examinations, greatly delaying entry into a country,”  ICAO said in a statement.

Zimbabwe does not have e-passports, but issue 10-year passports which were, however, machine-readable.

In an interview soon after officially opening the gathering, Transport minister Nicholas Goche said the country was making strides to meet the requirements.

“The programme is being spearheaded by the Civil Aviation Authority and the Immigration  Department.

“As you have heard, ICAO said the country is at  an advanced stage. If we don’t face financial constraints, we will meet the 2015 deadline,” Goche said.

The government has been operating on a shoestring budget, forcing it to postpone some of its projects because of lack of funds.

Meanwhile, Goche said the introduction of new security features, production methods and personalisation techniques had made the latest generation of identification documents  difficult to forge.

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