Biometric delays: Hundreds of frustrated passengers queue for hours yet only four officials on duty

Cape Town – The peak holiday period is looming and if these travellers’ complaints are anything to go by, foreign visitors are not in for a warm welcome.

Passengers arriving at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg have been especially hard hit due to new Biomtric capturing systems rolled out by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) for all non-citizens coming into the country. Its implementation and roll out was initiated in January 2016 but as of late complaints about too few officials or lack of training and discord in the administration process have escalated.

While a number of tourism bodies and heavyweights are engaging the DHA to find a solution to the apparent bottlenecks created, the Board of Airline Representatives South Africa (BARSA) is now calling for the immediate suspension of biometrics for the duration of the December holidays – as passengers continue to bear the brunt and expense of the situation.

‘3-hour wait – Utterly insane’

British traveller Peter Gyoury told Traveller24 in an email, “I have travelled many times to South Africa over the last 10 years. NEVER have I experienced immigration queues like I did arriving in to OR Tambo on Friday October 7th. “I had to wait to three hours to clear immigration after arriving from a 10.5 hour flight from London.”

According to Gyoury, an estimate six international flights arrived “almost at the same time, yet they have minimal immigration staff working (on a Friday of all days). This is mind boggling and creates the worst impression for first time visitors and such a long flight, imagine after a 15 hour flight from the USA. Utterly insane.”