In January 2020, the renewal of visa or identity card (IC) under the QueUp booking system was fast and efficient with minimal waiting time.
However, this has all changed since the start of this year.
Last Saturday, I arrived at the agency before my allotted time slot with all the associated paperwork completed, expecting to be in and out within 15 minutes as was the case last year.
I knew immediately upon entering the building that ‘something was not right’, as there were well over 200 people in the queue for visa and IC renewals.
On enquiring at the reception after noticing that the visa section closed off and boarded up, I was informed that although I had booked a slot, the agency had reverted to the old walk-in, first-come-first-served numbering system.
It was alleged that the change had been implemented due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
The result of which is many people queueing well before 7am just to get into the building, then waiting in line to get a number before waiting another few hours to be served.
There is absolutely no social distancing, and the system running out of numbers by 10am.
The longer waiting time, topped with a crowded room, means an increased possibility of contracting the virus from an asymptomatic carrier.
While there have not been any community transmissions in Brunei, it only takes one person to bring the country back to square one.What was last year a fast, efficient and safe service is now an agonisingly slow, inefficient and frankly a dangerous backward step.
I urge the authorities to reverse the decision to make the process hassle-free once again.