The Civil Registry Department has extended operating hours at its e-passport section in response to the rise in the number of people applying for the travel document.

This comes at a time when the government announced a 100% hike in passport fees from January 1, 2024.

In a statement, the Civil Registry Department said the passport offices will be open from 0700 – 1900 hours during weekdays and from 0800 to 1500 hours on Saturdays, with immediate effect.“The festive season is the busiest period for the department. With industry and schools closed, and returning citizens from the diaspora taking advantage of their visit to have their documents processed, the department witnesses an influx of clients visiting its passport offices.“Moreover, the recent announcement by the government in relation to the proposed increase of passport fees with effect from 01 January 2024 has also contributed to clients rushing to apply for passports before the deadline,” reads the statement in part.While presenting his national budget statement last week, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said he would increase the fee for an ordinary passport from US$120 to US$200 while an emergency travel document will be priced at US$300 up from US$200, with effect from next month.This 100% rise triggered massive demand for passports, with some panicky citizens sleeping at the passport offices countrywide to obtain the document before the new application fees come into force.