A ‘Not-so-Smart’ Smartcards Plan …

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Mon 17 April / Apr 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

The government’s decision to set a deadline for the issuance of the new Smartcard IDs, by the middle of June, is a bit of an over-stretch.

Issuing 4.5 million smartcard IDs in three months placed a tremendous weight on the Department of Civil Status and Passports (CSPD), its employees, as well as on citizens, more or less.

One time, the Director of the North Amman CSPD branch had to climb on top of his desk to address the citizens and control chaos, while had fainted due to the congestion of hundreds of visitors.

Expectedly, there were fights, clashes, and disputes among the citizens themselves too.

Whereas setting a deadline does help expedite projects in general, particularly ones of such scale and magnitude, an unrealistic deadline makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to renew all the Jordanian IDs out there within such a brief period of time.

The government’s pressure to finish this task within such an unrealistic timeframe makes no sense.

What could have happened, had the deadline been set for the end of the year, for example? Or maybe, the time table could have been organised in accordance to the dates and years of birth, which makes it easier and more organisable. It could also spare citizens a lot of unnecessary trouble!

Since the government launched the IDs renewal project, up until last Sunday, the Department could only issue one million Smartcards. This means that there are over 3 more million cards left to be issued.

As a result, the Department seems to be running out of time.

More so, instead of going once, it now takes two visits to the respective CSPD branch to issue a new smartcard ID. One to update and verify information and technical requirements for the new ID, and another to pick it up.

Meanwhile, it used to take no more than an hour, more or less, to issue and receive the national Identification Document.

The bodies and departments in charge should set up a clear and accurate estimate of the remaining number of ID issuances left, bearing in mind that the inbound tourism season is soon upon us.

Likewise, it will probably be harder for employees and citizens to pursue these card during Ramadan; with less working hours and the people in a volatile mood, generally, these issues should be taken into consideration.

It is crucial that the timeframe for the implementation of the Smartcard IDs project is revisited. The project should not interfere, as well, with the other works and tasks of the Department, like the issuance of passports and other identifications.

To be clear, this is neither the Department’s nor the people’s fault, that the Ministries themselves had fallen behind on their work to effectively organise the renewal project. The time table for the project should be set in accordance to the productive capacities of the CSPD branches across the Kingdom and the time it takes per issuance task, in order to put together a smoother, realisable operation.

Timelines should not be so carelessly set in utter disregard of all the objective factors in play.

On the one hand, the government should explain why they are so eager to put these Smartcard IDs out; how does it help Jordanians at all?

To be honest, it would be such a disappointment if it turns out this new Smartcard ID has no other benefit.

What’s this fuss all about? What added value does it have? Does the government intend to raise the quality and level of services facilitated to the citizenry? Is this new card part of it? How exactly does it help the government attain a higher level of service? Will this expedite the long awaited e-government project?

There are smart ways to move about the issuance of 4.5 million Smartcard IDs, and this is not one of them.

A project of this magnitude should be outlined in a series of smooth executable steps, to avoid the citizenry and the departments of the states all this headache.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.