According to DIP sources, delay in fund release by the government hampered the progress of the whole project
The Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP) is likely to start distributing digital passport, also known as ePassport, from the beginning of the next year after missing three deadlines.
“Introduction of ePassport and Automated Border Control Management in Bangladesh” project had planned to inaugurate the initiative by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina this June, but then it was twice rescheduled to September and then to December respectively.
According to DIP sources, delay in fund release by the government hampered the progress of the whole project.
However, Security Service Division Joint Secretary (immigration) Munim Hasan said: "Careful installation of the security features which will be present in the ePassport is a lengthy process. There has been no issue regarding funding for the timely implementation of this project.
"We are still hopeful to launch ePassport by December this year, only if we are able to overcome the technical challenges."
ePassport, how and when
The ePassport has an embedded electronic microprocessor chip containing biometric information used to authenticate the identity of the bearer.
Bangladesh signed an agreement with Germany in 2018 to print electronic passports with 10 years’ validity, which is in addition to the Machine Readable Passports (MRP).
ePassport will eventually be printed in a factory in the capital’s Uttara.
The government meanwhile, plans to issue two million ePassport printed in Germany.
Initially ePassport will be issued from Dhaka and the distribution of existing MRP will continue from other regional offices until they start issuing ePassport.
Existing MRPs will be accepted till its stipulated validity date.
E-gates have been installed at every airport and land ports across the country to facilitate the use of ePassports.
MRPs in trouble
Multiple rescheduling of the ongoing ePassport project has created shortage of MRPs, causing immense suffering to the people who had applied but are yet to get their hands on Bangladeshi passport.
Due to this hold-up, people who have to go abroad immediately, such as students and patients, are suffering the most as they cannot get their visas and tickets on time.
Regional passport offices, being affected by this timeline failure, are sending MRP aspirants to its Dhaka office. But because of the huge number of people the office has to manage every day, none of them are getting their passports as per schedule.