As the spread of Coronavirus draws the world’s attention with two confirmed cases in Liberia, the Foreign Ministry has suspended the Issuance of Passports beginning March 18, 2020.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has, with immediate effect, suspended the issuance of Passports to Liberian Citizens,” the release said.
According to the release, this latest decision is in accordance with the mandate from President George M. Weah to observe social distancing in order to avoid the further spread of the deadly Coronavirus.
The Bureau of Passports is one of the service centers in the Liberian government with the highest traffic. Throughout the week, hundreds of citizens assemble at the basement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs — sometimes as early as 5 a.m. — to apply for their travel documents, a process that takes between one and three weeks. Upon arrival at the Passport section, applicants can expect to spend at least four to six hours until all necessary forms, interviews and biometric data are submitted.
With each passport booklet costing between US$50 and US$100, the suspension of passport services could significantly affect the government’s revenue intake.
According to the Ministry, Passports will only be issued to people based on emergency cases to be determined by the authority of the Bureau of Passports.
“The Ministry wishes to inform the public that these measures, which will be reviewed periodically, are in no way intended to deprive citizens of their right to travel document. Rather, it is in the interest of public safety and health of the citizens,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also rendered apologies to the general public for any inconvenience this latest pronouncement may have caused as it is only intended to contain this dangerous monster (coronavirus) from further spreading.