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Diasporian News of Thursday, 7 April 2011

Source: Sandow Seidu Kpebu

Services at the Consular Section of Ghana High Commission Improves

The Consular section of the Ghana High Commission in London, the United Kingdom, has undergone improvements both structurally and services. The building is now customer friendly with customers and visitors alike provided with confortable seats whilst waiting for their turn to be served.

The hitherto long queues that was a daily sight is no longer the case, as there is a well organised procedure for applicants and visitors to follow orderly thereby reducing waiting times.

Whilst waiting for my turn to be served, I used the opportunity to speak to applicants, of various nationalities, at the premises on Wednesday the 6th of April, and they were full of praises for the orderly and speedily manner they were served. An Idian visa applicant recounted his bad experience when he visited some High Commissions and embassies where he claimed have poor customer services and that waiting times at these consulates are unacceptably long.

A British first time visitor said he was extremely happy with the service he received at the Consulate. According to him, a friend had already commended the Consular section to him and that it was a matter of confirmation of that experience. All applicants I interviewed expressed their satisfaction of the customer service they received at the Consulate.

Another improvement is the online application, which is now customer friendly and easy to complete and submit. The online application takes you trhough eight (8) or nine (9) easy steps to complete, depending on the type of service you require. As soon as your application is received and accepted by the consulate, you would receive a text message on your phone acknowledging receipt of your application. Payment has also been simplified; applicants can now pay with postal orders, banker's draft and debit cards.

One may argue that this is long overdue. However, it is always better late than indefinite wait. Haven used the service myself, it is a mark improvement upon what used to be bureaucratic and cumbersome process. There were also complaints in the past of staff being rude, but the situation has changed for better.

The Consulate is still undergoing expansion, as construction work could be seen at the rear side of the consulate. I had the honour of being shown round the premises by His Excellency Professor Kwaku Danso-Boafo who was there interacting with customers and the staff at the tills. The customers who interacted with him were extremely excited for the opportunity they had to interact with the High Commissioner. There are still challenges though, and one of such challenges at the consular section is that of space. However, this would be addressed when the ongoing construction work at the premises completes. Also there is not enough parking space for visitors. Parking lotts at Highgate in North London is generally limited and therefore visitors have to make arrangements for parking at a distance before driving to the consulate. Alternatively, visitors can park on the long stretch of road infront of the consulate which attracts a fee between 10am and 12pm. After 12pm, parking on the road is free.

It is my hope that Mr Benard Quanson, who is incharge of Consular services, and his staff ably supervised by the High Commissioner would continue to raise standards at the Consular Section, which serves as a gateway to Ghana for foreigners. As a nation we should always commend our officials when they perform creditably and criticise them when they under-perform. Therefore the staff at the consulate deserve commendation for their hardwork.

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