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No bottlenecks at OR Tambo, say Home Affairs
Monday, 04 November 2013
 The Department of Home Affairs is about to embark on an assessment to find out whether a major project that saw the replacement of all immigration officers at Acsa’s OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) has been a success. 

Speaking at the recent Tourism Leadership Dialogue held in Johannesburg, DDG: Immigration Affairs at the Department of Home Affairs, Jackie McKay, said it was time to engage with Acsa and all ports of entry as to whether everything possible was being done to enable the efficient facilitation of travellers. 

Attendees at the Dialogue criticised the arrivals and departure process at ORTIA, citing lengthy delays and poor attitudes from immigration officials, but ORTIA GM, Tebogo Mekgoe, said the airport’s data painted a different picture. “Wait times currently average at between 12 and 14 minutes and we are working towards 10 minutes,” he said. 

Tebogo said planning took place the night before and decisions were made on how many counters needed to be opened the following day. “We have also invested heavily in exception management as flights can come in early, late, or be cancelled.” In these cases, more or fewer immigration counters are opened accordingly. 

Jackie reiterated Tebogo’s sentiments and said the airport was not experiencing any major bottlenecks at the immigration counters. “There is a free flow of people going through,” he said. “The only times we occasionally see delays is during the change of shifts between staff but we are trying to fix this by applying better operational management.” 

But there was some room for improvement, said Tebogo. When the change of staff took place in December 2011, the Department did not add to the number of immigration officials stationed at the airport, so there could be an opportunity to deploy additional human resources. He said that while the effectiveness of immigration officers had improved, efficiency had suffered as a result. “It used to take about 36 seconds to process an arrival. When the new staff came in it went up to 67 seconds and it is now sits at about 40 seconds,” he said. 

Jackie also argued that the design of the arrivals hall at ORTIA did not encourage effective facilitation of people. “It’s basically one big hall with all arrivals feeding into one terminal,” he said. “No matter how many cubicles at the immigration counters are manned, it still looks busy and messy,” he said. 

He continued to say that the land border posts were even worse. “Most of these were built during the apartheid era and were constructed to keep people out, not let people in,” he said. Fortunately, budget has been set aside, with R140m allocated for the infrastructure improvements at South Africa’s busiest land border posts, including Beitbridge and Maseru.
By : etnw
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