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Durban - Popped light bulbs at the Home Affairs offices in Umgeni Road have resulted in people using the light from their cellphones to fill in documents.
Staff members have resorted to using makeshift lamps to try to work at their computers in the dark office.
Of the 25 fluorescent light bulbs in the passport section of the offices, only five are functional. In an adjacent office used for the processing of identity documents and birth certificates, buckets dot the room to catch water from a badly leaking ceiling.
Nicky Burke, who had gone to collect her passport, described the state of the offices as a disgrace.
Burke said: “There are no lights and the place is filthy. It has been like that for months.
“We always complain about Home Affairs, but no one sticks up for the staff. They can’t allow people to work like this. They could make mistakes while trying to process applications in the dark.”
Burke said the service had been good. She had received her passport in two weeks from the date she applied.
One passport agent, who did not want to be named, said the place had been without lights for about two months.
“Last Saturday, a Home Affairs official came to the offices and saw the queue outside the door,” the agent said.
“There was only one person at the counter and no lights. I think he organised for the globes to be put on the computers. The system is so good, it’s a pity (about the facilities).”
Iain Dunn, project manager from HVW Group which recently took ownership of the building, said they were waiting for the Department of Home Affairs to sign the lease.
He said not much maintenance had been done in recent years, but repairs were being planned. “We just acquired the buildings this year and are in the process of doing a revamp which should be finished by the middle of next year.
“Work on the ceilings should start next week.”
He said the replacement of light bulbs and cleaning was the responsibility of the tenant.
Albert Matsaung, acting provincial manager for the Department of Home Affairs, said: “It is a fact that there were bulbs of lights out of order in the passport section.
“The building needed adequate lights and a supplement of globes were put in.
“The section was undergoing an upgrade as part of our service delivery improvement to our clients which led to the bursting of some of the bulbs.
“The lights were sorted out and the section is well lit. As far as the ceilings and leaks are concerned, the matter was taken up with the Public Works Department and the necessary steps towards the solution of this problem are under way.
“The Departments of Public Works, Home Affairs and the landlord have met and discussed the state of the building. The landlord has committed to do renovations,” he said.
“The function of cleaning is the responsibility of the department and the office has in-house cleaners responsible for the cleaning.”