Tuesday, 18 March 2014


“The only freedom which deserves a name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it” says John Stuart Mill. Indeed, we claim to live in a freedom state but many people deliberately deprive others of their needs. Over a decade ago, Ghana was ranked as one of the most peaceful countries in Africa and the world. This ranking did not only increase our goodwill as our nation but epitomized a peaceful atmosphere where business and investment could thrive better. Our hospitality has been lauded for ages at the international front but today, the music has ended and the songs seem to fade sharply.

Against the backdrop, trying to obtain national documents in Ghana is hell. Inasmuch as every citizen and all foreigners need to acquire a valid document, one cannot fathom the stress, the disappointments and the heartbreaking bureaucratic procedures people go through in obtaining legal documents in Ghana.

To begin, just take the pain to walk to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and you will be taken aback to see people sleeping in a queue at midnight in order to be served early the following day. This problem is not only disheartening but also worsened by breakdown in the biometric machines at the passport office.

After struggling and going through hell to be served at the passport office and once again being slapped with so many delay tactics, documents submitted for processing are at times mishandled and others get missing. The lucky ones who go through the processing also have their joy and hopes curtailed when the problematic and old-fashioned electrical pad used for signing at the office breaks down.   

Not only is obtaining passport difficult in Ghana but also obtaining other legal documents such as building permit and land registration. Most lands have become litigant and trying to acquire legal documents to cover them leads to so many untold stories.  At times, one wonders how one piece of land can be sold to different buyers with different or same documents. The aftermath of such cases is near brutality.

In a more pragmatic way to nip the problem in the bud, the government should flash out all impeders of the processing of national documents. These impeders at times deliberately create artificial barriers and red tapes just to frustrate innocent people and those who cannot stand the heat of the frustration resort to paying brides. Most of these legal documents such as passport, building permit and land registration forms should be downloaded on the internet to reduce unnecessary queues and hidden charges.

Again, there should be a comprehensive database system to keep records of people to avoid misplacement of files. Government agencies must ensure that all cumbersome procedures are removed and old machines replaced with modern ones.