South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister has been seeking to reassure travelers that problems caused by the implementation of biometric screening at the OR Tambo International Airport have now been resolved.
The problems were, more specifically, delays: The Department of Home Affairs and airport authorities had the biometric passenger screening system installed last week, delaying flights and passengers in the process. At the time, an Airlines Association of Southern Africa spokesperson suggested to media that the biometric scanning was taking longer than anticipated, while passengers complained that no warning had been given about the change.
Now, a government news outlet reports that Minister Malusi Gigaba has credited the delays to a shortage of staff. Speaking to media at the airport this week, Gigaba added that the delays have been cleared up, and emphasized that the biometric screening is “crucial for South Africa’s security.”
While biometric airport screening has elsewhere been used to improve the efficiency of passenger processing, the emphasis on security at OR Tambo is reflective of a broader concern driving the biometric borders market around the world. In South Africa, government authorities are reportedly planning the further deployment of biometric screening at several major land border crossings, and to link the biometric screening system to a national citizen registry and to Interpol databases.
July 8, 2016 – by Alex Perala