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Home Affairs to cut queue time

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The department was looking at extending working hours during peak periods – like the first week of January – for high-volume offices to open their doors between 7am and 7pm

QUEUES at Home Affairs offices are expected to be a thing of the past soon, after the implementation of several strategies, including a heat map showing customers which offices have long queues and increasing working hours during peak period.

This was announced yesterday by Thulani Mavuso, the department’s director-general, during a presentation to the portfolio committee on home affairs on the progress that has been made to deal with long queues at the department’s front-line offices.

Mavuso said the unprecedented long queues, which were brought to the department’s attention as far back as January 2018, prompted the minister at the time to conduct an unannounced visit at Home Affairs offices to observe the situation at a “personal level” and establish the nature of the situation as well.

This led to Mavuso directing the department to conduct an assessment in order to develop intervention strategies that will deal with the challenges of long queues and to improve service delivery, which was followed by the launch of the “war on queues campaign”.

Making a presentation to members of the committee, Mavuso said among several challenges that made queues even longer was unpredictable walk-ins, the discontinuation of Saturday working hours, inadequate front office space, unstable systems, inefficient work-flow processes and unco-ordinated communications strategies, among others.

To deal with unpredictable walk-ins, he said the department was looking into developing a system that will enable it to issue tickets for overflow clients.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Mavuso said, was also in talks with bargaining unions to renegotiate the discontinuation of Saturday working hours as there is a belief that Home Affairs is not a Monday-to-Friday kind of a department.

To deal with inadequate management, Mavuso said the department was looking at conducting continuous training on operations management, service quality management and client relations.

Mavuso said the department was, in the meantime, looking at extending working hours during peak periods – like the first week of January – for high-volume offices to open their doors between 7am and 7pm.

Some 120 officials from various offices have been trained on client relations, service delivery improvement plans and operations management.