22 January 2009

Homer Fairs (AKA How to beat the queues at Home Affairs)

Following Kat and my trip to Cape Town in early January to celebrate Simon and Bronwyn Clur's wedding, I had to make a trip down to our "wonderfully (in)efficient" Umgeni Home Affairs branch (the centre for all eThekwini ID books) to obtain a replacement ID.*

Dreading the impending hours-long wait in a static queue, I decided to follow up some advice and find out what ID & passport services were available to assist me with "taking hours off my life" (aah yes, the good old Ster-Kinekor ad. campaign of the late '90's...).

A quick visit to www.yellowpages.co.za and searching for ID & Passport services rendered a healthy portion in the Durban area. After filtering through the ones in my locale, I narrowed it down to a handful, and then finally made my decision. Following is a brief overview of what they each offered, and then which one I selected, and what my experience was like.

* While I was on the V & A Waterfront for Simon's bachelors (sober) I must have been spotted as a Brit tourist, and they singled me out for my Euro's... haha, wish I could have seen their face when they opened the wallet and found R60 in it!

Bryan's ID and Passport Services

  1. Easi Passport Services AKA Immigration Matters

    Pam / Brian 031-309-6913
    R150 for I.D. + R50 for temporary (optional)
    Bring: 2 ID Photos
    Estimated turnaround time in queue: 20 minutes
    Must arrive at Home Affairs 9am
    Kiosk Tower opposite Home Affairs entrance (you can see the building from their offices)

  2. WHY Q Travel Documents

    Laurie 082-578-4220
    R170 + R170 for temporary (optional)
    Bring: 2 ID Photos
    Estimated turnaround time in queue: 90 minutes
    Must arrive 7:30am

  3. Passport People

    R150 + R120 for temporary (optional)
    Bring: 2 ID Photos
    Must arrive: 11am

  4. Express Passport Services

    Roxanne @ 031-309-8012
    R220 + R150 for temporary (optional)
    Bring: 2 ID Photos
    Estimated turnaround time in queue: 15 minutes

  5. Passport Centre

    Renee @ 031-3098245
    R116 + R116 for temporary (optional)
    Bring: 2 ID Photos
    Must Arrive: 8:30am
In the end I went with #1, and I left home in Westville +/- 8:20am and arrived at Home Affairs at 8:45am. I didn't have trouble finding their kiosk tower, and went upstairs to "register". I waited about twenty minutes in the office because it was the last day of school holidays and a lot of school kids were attempting to get their IDs at the same time. When it was eventually my turn, I handed Brian my passport, and he took about three minutes to fill in the form, accept my money, hand me a receipt, and explain to me the drill. We then went down in a group of three people, inside, and brought to one side where we were asked to wait.

About a minute passed, before I was called up to the front of the queue, met Pam, and then had my application processed. The guy behind the counter was very disillusioned with his job, and I guess I can't blame him when everyone complains about Home Affairs and makes fun of their inefficiency (I'm even guilty of it). I procsesed my thumbprints on the digital reader, and without too much effort to put them squarely in the centre, the system still acknowledged my thumbprints, and that was it. Done.

Am I done? Is that it? I spent more time in the office upstairs than I did in Home Affairs! It took me about three minutes to get in, get done, get out. It was unbelievable! No-one around us seemed to complain about the queue-jumping, but ultimately who would complain if I took three minutes??

It was almost as much of a pleasure to get my ID done as it was to go and pay my tax!

I will admit I was a little apprehensive about the perceived disapproval of "wealthy fat cats" using "lazy fat cats" services, but in the end, I felt the price was reasonable, and the service impeccable. I would always recommend doing it this way in future, provided that it doesn't victimise anyone else in the system. From what I could understand, Pam began queuing from5am, so good on her!

Hooray to our minister - hooray to Mrs. N. Mapisa-Nqakula and Deputy-Minister Mr M.K.N. Gigaba ... or not really!


oltman said...

despicable... i am sure this is illegal...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the numbers. yours was the only decent google hit. Pity you still have to be there, must be the fingerprint thingy. at least the ink is gone.