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New Vanuatu passport booklets available

A batch of 1,500 passport booklets will arrive in Port Vila this week via Sydney, says Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat.

Napuat also confirmed there was another shipment of 500 booklets that arrived earlier this month but priority was given to students who will be going for studies overseas.

“Students are our priority, I instructed the Scholarship under the Ministry of Education to send us the list of scholarship recipients so we knew these were the ones who needed a passport immediately,” he said.

“Other booklets were available under exceptional circumstances.”

Napuat said payment for the order of 5,000 booklets was made in September 2018 and the number was sufficient to commit to current applications.

“Currently the booklets are not coming in bulk but smaller shipments of up to more than 1,000 at a time and by February we should have the required number in stock.”

The supply is expected to last until the government through the Ministry of Internal Affairs signs a new contract with a new supplier company.

A frustrated local, Jeff Patunvanu has voiced his concern to the media on the issue of Certificate of Identification (CI) — a document created for travellers who have expired passports to use during the shortage of booklets.

“My brother was denied access to travel when he presented the CI to AirCalin officers at the airport last Friday, saying the border control in Noumea did not accept the document to allow his entry into the country in which he resides,” he said.

Patunvanu’s brother lives in Noumea and was in Vanuatu for the festive holidays. He said there was more than one issue.

“There were two issues — his name was misspelled and he was not allowed to fly using the CI.”

Patunvanu said he spoke with the Director of Immigration who promptly assisted by giving a new passport to Patunvanu’s brother a day after (Saturday) and a reimbursement of expenses that would’ve been spent by the family before being able to return to NC.

“We don’t need to go through such events if the authorities concerned are doing their job professionally, because such practices are very costly for the people,” he said.

The Director of Immigration, Jeffery Markson said the department made every effort to help with the situation.

“I received the phone call at Friday night and told the client that we would help because New Caledonia does not accept the CI- that is why we treat cases going to NC differently, advising those traveling to Noumea to let our department know so we can issue a support statement or work out ways to enable their entry into NC,” he said.

“Now travellers going to NC anytime from now on can be issued with passports as we have another 1,500 booklets arriving soon but we are still working on the issue with our Consulate in NC to work out a suitable way if we are faced with another shortage situation, said Markson.


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