South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has implemented biometric security screening for non-citizen visitors to the country at the OR Tambo International Airport.
The deployment caused significant delays, with DHA and airline authorities telling media that both authorities and travelers’ efforts to transition to the system led to slower processing. Speaking to Traveller24, a spokesperson for Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) said, “The amount of time required to capture biometrics from passengers was longer than expected compared to the normal processing of a passenger through immigration without biometrics.”
The situation stands in stark contrast to other airports’ embrace of biometric screening. While many deployments have been undertaken with a focus on the security advantages offered by biometric passenger screening, in many instances it’s the convenience and efficiency enabled by biometric eGates that takes the spotlight, as in the case of the Aruba Happy Flow program, for example.
In the case of South Africa’s OR Tambo, it appears that one major issue was the suddenness with which the biometric screening was implemented, with reports that passengers received no communications about the change as it took effect on July 1st. Still, officials say they are working to improve the situation, with the ultimate goal being a “more efficient and convenient” travel experience, according to a DHA spokesperson.
July 4, 2016 – by Alex Perala