The government has finalised a Tk 3,600 crore deal with German company Veridos GmbH to introduce e-passports for Bangladesh nationals by December.
The deal is likely to be signed between the Department of Immigration and Passports and the German company at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre on July 19 in the presence of prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
‘If the deal is signed, we will be able to distribute the e-passport by December,’ the Department Immigration and Passports director
general Major General Md Masud Rezwan told New Age on Thursday, adding, ‘it’s a G-2-G process.’
According to the deal, to be signed without any bidding, the German company would supply three crore passport booklets and install 50 e-passport gates at the country’s three international airports in Dhaka, Chittagong, and Sylhet and two land ports at Benapole of Jessore and Banglabandha of Panchagarh.
‘The signing of the Electronic Passport Project with Germany is, in actuality, more of a political engagement between the most friendly Bangladesh and Germany,’ said Veridos GmbH local consultant AK Faiyazul Huq Raju.
‘It was prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s very own personal initiative and the result of her personal intimacy with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The project shall take Bangladesh to the next level of high-tech passport world,’ he said.
Masud Rezwan said that the German company would install eight passport printing machines — six at Uttara and one at Agargaon in Dhaka and the rst one in Jessore.
‘Jessore is chosen because there is a disaster recovery centre. If the data across the country is affected, we will be able to produce passports from the backup data stored in Jessore,’ said Rezwan.
The German company would provide all necessary equipment to 72 regional passport offices across the country and 80 offices abroad.
Currently, there are three machine readable passport machines.
Since 2010, the department has so far produced 2.22 crore machine readable passports and 5 lakh machine readable visas.
In mid of September 2017, the department announced that they were set to introduce e-passports by January or February 2018.
With the modern features, e-passport will have a validity of both five and 10 years.
The government continues discussing the cost of e-passports and how much the fee should be increased for an e-passport, officials said.
‘The fee is yet to be settled,’ said the department chief.
Currently, an applicant has to pay Tk 3,450 for a passport with five-year validity while Tk 6,900 is needed for emergency delivery of a passport.
An e-passport, also known as biometric passport, is a chip-attached passport containing detail biometric features of its holder.
The German company has so far worked in Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Cyprus, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Turkmenistan and Venezuela to develop chip modules for e-passport, personalisation and border control, among others.
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