7 September 2016
A shortage of officials to man the immigration desks at OR Tambo International Airport is continuing to cause delays more than two months after the capturing of biometric data was rolled out at the airport.
Biometric capturing was introduced on July 1 and includes capturing fingerprints and scanning passengers’ eyes.
“I am aware that under these constraints, the officials at the airport are trying their best to speed up the processing of visitors and immigration management / supervisors at the airport are also stepping in to process passengers,” said Chris Zweigenthal, chief executive of Airlines Association of Southern Africa. “Where significant backups and queues exist, they dispense with the collection of biometrics and process passengers accordingly.”
While eTNW’s readers have reported queues of between two and four hours at immigration, Thabo Mokgola, media liaison for the Department of Home Affairs, told eTNW that they had not been notified of any delays experienced.
Leanne Zahn, travel specialist at Ngwe Safari, told eTNW that clients arriving on Monday from London, were in a queue for over two hours. At the time, there were four immigration officers on duty.
Another reader said the delay coming through immigration could be anything from 40 minutes to four hours. The reader added that long delays occur when there are only three desks open and a large number of flights has landed.
According to Chris, Airports Company South Africa is also very vigilant on the ground and trying to find ways to assist immigration to clear the queues. “Airline management and handling agents are also present and offer assistance where possible.”