Muscat: Bangladeshi expatriates will soon find it easier to get machine readable passports (MRPs), the country's embassy in Muscat has said.
The Bangladesh government will outsource the work of converting handwritten passports into machine readable ones to a private firm this year, it added.
International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) earlier notified member countries that it would not accept international passengers without machine readable passports after March 31, 2015.
"This project will significantly help replace the remaining handwritten passports, which will be converted into machine readable passports," Bangladesh's Ambassador to Oman, Sheikh Sekander Ali, said.
According to National Centre for Statistics and Information (NSCI) data, there are some 510,470 Bangladeshi expats registered in the country, as of April 2014, of which around 300,000 do not have MRPs.
"In this regard, the Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP) of Bangladesh has issued an international tender for expression of interest (EOI) for selection of a service provider in Oman, and it is expected that by the middle of this year the outsourcing process will start," said the Consular Officer of the Bangladesh Embassy, Mohammad Khorshed A. Khastagir.
In the process, four regional enrolment centres (REC) and at least eight mobile units will be set up after obtaining necessary permission from the Oman government for collecting applications and recording biometric data and delivering personalised MRPs.
"Each of these offices will be supervised, controlled and administered by one officer from MRP/MRV project and one officer from DIP, who have knowledge of the MRP system.
One Centralised Management Office (CMO) will also be established to manage and coordinate the end-to-end operation of the entire outsourcing process," the Consular Officer said.
For this, in compliance with the law of the Sultanate, a local company in Oman, in collaboration with a Bangladeshi company, will be selected in the bidding process as the service provider.
"Seventy-five per cent of employees of the service provider will be Bangladeshi, to smoothly handle the project, and the remainder will serve the need of Omanisation requirements for the project, as is mandatory under the local law," he added.
As per existing rules of Bangladesh, every five years passports must be renewed or replaced by a new one, depending on the owner's status.
"As most of the expatriate Bangladeshis live away from the capital Muscat, once they arrive at the embassy in Muscat to renew or obtain a new passport, they prefer to avail the opportunity to receive machine readable passports.
"For the MRP, the physical presence of the applicant is mandatory, as it requires all bio-metric information, such as a picture, finger print, thumb impression, digital signature, and more.
"So there is a possibility of a massive backlog to issue these passports, unless appropriate steps are taken," the embassy observed.
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