THE FOREIGN MINISTRY'S passport division will today reboot its computer server for online passport issuance. The server had to be shutdown for security reasons on January 13 after anti-government protesters took over the Government Complex.
The suspension of the server and the service at the Passport Office headquarters inside the Consular Department on Chaeng Wattana Road has resulted in an influx of people at the branch offices in Pinklao and Bang Na areas as well as to those in Chiang Mai, Phuket and Songkhla. Prior to the protests, 18 branch offices were able to issue passports and applicants only had to wait three days for a new passport. Now, however, applicants are having to wait 10 to 12 days.
In addition, only a specific number of passports can be issued daily at branch offices. For instance, the Bang Na office can only issue 1,750 passports per day, Pinklao 1,300 and Chiang Mai 200.
The shutdown has also badly affected the issuing of passports both in Thailand and overseas, as Thais have not been able to renew their passports through Thai embassies.
Once the rebooting and testing of the server is completed on Sunday as scheduled, the office’s passport-issuing capacity should return to almost normal, about 7,000 passports a day, compared to 3,650 during the shutdown.
Since the anti-government protesters set up camp on the road outside the Government Complex and put up a stage right in front of the department, the ministry was forced to close down the service.
The ministry said that as soon as the server goes back into full operation, people can submit their passport applications at any branch of the Passport Office, with the exception of the Consular Department, the Labour Ministry as well as branches in Surat Thani and Phuket.