By Sidima Mfeku
Port Elizabeth- Public works department on Friday officially handed over the new Refugee Reception office site.
Public works regional manager Johan van der Walt formally handed over the Telkom Building site to the Home affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni. The new site with the capacity to accommodate approximately 500 people are expected to help every refugee with their new asylum applications. The office is situated alongside the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in North End, Port Elizabeth and is expected to be operational by end of July.
The operations will be advanced to easily process applications and will make use of bio-metric security systems. “The new building will have adequate accommodation with which to extend better services to persons with legitimate claims” Apleni confirmed.
Apleni said the old RRO offices closed down in 2011 “due to the local business community in the vicinity who exerted pressure on the department saying the office was a nuisance factor”, he says the department encountered other challenges in the area, including eviction orders and refusal from the landlord to renew the lease agreement.
Apleni added that the department conducted a research and established that most refugees who sought asylum entered the country from the northern borders that also have asylum application facilities. The department was then mandated to relocate the asylum offices to “strategic areas”, areas where most asylum seekers enter the republic.
He says the department’s records show that most asylum applicants using the PE RRO hailed from China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somali, Ethiopia as well as other northern countries and none of them used Port Elizabeth as a point of entry.