Sep 23 , 2023

An unprecedented pile-up of identification cards (IDs) at the city wereda bureaus has prompted the Civil Registration & Residency Service Agency to start door-to-door delivery services before the stamped date runs out.

A flocking demand that could not be met with the available printers was created as ID card renewal which was suspended by the Addis Abeba City Administration a year ago, citing prevailing security concerns and growing fraud led to reopening a couple of months later.

While issuing a new identification is unavailable to the broader public, the service was partially instated prioritising university students, medical travellers to other countries, law enforcement and public servants who had formed cooperatives in a bid to build housing units in April.

Following this, a colossal backlog leaving 259,581 IDs piled up, urged the 11 districts to ease the burden by printing and distributing them through the 119 Weredas within the capital.

The districts managed to catch up with printing the IDs in July. However, residents of the capital had been content to move around the country with temporary acknowledgement papers that confirm registration for the original card.

The miscommunication resulted in 102,000 IDs being deserted at Wereda offices, resulting in the delivery of 28,000 cards in a span of five days last month.

The new identification card is valid for four years.

"We started distributing the printed cards to prevent their expiry," said Yosef Nigussie, head of the residential services at the Agency.

He disclosed that handing out temporary papers would be suspended soon.

"People have started to use them like regular IDs," said Yosef.

He acknowledged the Arada District's backlog of 16,000 IDs due to the malfunction of printing machines is emblematic of the city-wide problem while disclosing that the Agency is awaiting a green light from the City Administration to begin registrations for new identification cards since the ban.

According to its nine-month report last year, the Agency had managed to collect around 12.6 million Br from its registration and associated services.

Despite the possession of IDs being rendered of elevated importance during emergency command posts, urbanites had foregone requesting for their reception, largely frustrated with poor service provision at weredas through the years.

Public administration experts believe the response is a reflection of the dwindling prompt and accountable public service.

Biyadgelegn Dessie, a lecturer of management & public administration at Gonder University, is not surprised by the lagged response of urbanites due to the difficult reputation of acquiring them.

He finds the response by residents to be in line with the snail-paced service given by public offices. The absence of transparency, lack of efficient time usage and unnecessary bureaucracy were behind the misalignment of service delivery and demand, according to Beyadgelen.

"The acknowledgement papers in wide use could easily be counterfeited," he told Fortune.

Meanwhile, the delivery initiative has two districts riled up in an efficiency bubble as they complete their distribution while suspending the issuance of temporary acknowledgement letters.

A two million Birr procurement of three printing machines trailed the struggle to meet the large demand for printed cards in the Kolfe Qearnyo District. Following an audit which revealed a backlog of 62,000 undistributed IDs, the door-to-door delivery was kicked off by employees.

For Haji Aliye, who heads the district residential affairs bureau, it was a step forward in boosting the public service.

"We tracked each individual and matched the information," Haji told Fortune.

The initiative was attributed to augmented work hours by the Bole District officials.

Asresash Kumsa, head of the district Residential Affairs Bureau recalls they focused on alleviating the backlog for five consecutive days to sequence the thousands of pile-up requests.

Asresash indicated that home deliveries were made to urbanites who were handicapped and those who could not make it to district offices due to factors beyond their control, such as advanced age, while awareness was attempted by blasting messages through bullhorns.

She lauded her district restructured working hour shifts to print 7,084 IDs that had already been registered onto their system stating: "Everyone knows the struggles of getting an ID."

PUBLISHED ON Sep 23,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1221]

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