Service gap filled by middlemen
Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang

A new passport costs Rp 265,000 and takes just three working days to process, or so says the sign at Tangerang Immigration Office.

In reality, most applicants traipse back and forth for over a week before the ball even gets rolling.

"The officer at the registration desk asked me to go to the service desk, which is located across the way. As I ventured toward the desk, some men approached me, offering their services," one applicant, Saut Simarmata, told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

"They asked Rp 700,000 for their one-day service," he said.

Tangerang public service watchdog Pattiro has long observed the presence of agents at the immigration office.

Pattiro coordinator Imron Khamami said the practice was costing both the community and the state money.

Migrant workers -- who are generally after a passport in a hurry -- are charged Rp 2 million, the non-governmental organization said, and still have to do the bulk of the legwork themselves.

"We urge the Justice and Human Rights Ministry to crack down on agents operating at the immigration office. We suspect corruption because of the neat coordination between those at the official desk and the agents," Imron told the Post.

The head of the immigration office, Ida Bagus K Adnyana, denied the existence of agents intermediate between his office and applicants.

"We continue to strive to improve upon public service and, as far as I know, there are no more middlemen operating here," he said.

He said the office received between 120 and 130 applications daily.

"The applicants pay the fee and that's the end of it," he said.

Responding to complaints over middlemen at the immigration office, Tangerang municipal council is set to launch an investigation.

"We will gather evidence before summoning immigration officials, the manpower agency, (migrant worker) recruitment agencies and service desk officials to clarify the matter," said Suratno Abubakar, who is deputy chairman of the council's Commission A for government affairs.
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