Government Agencies


I had the unfortunate experience of going to the Registrar General’s Department to start the process of registering my son. Everytime I have to do any administrative thing as required by law (birth certificate, passport, drivers license), I am extremely annoyed at the level of service provided by government agencies here.I must hasten to add though, that there have been improvements in many government agency services and the offices from which they operate. The physical locations are now not so much the depressing, sweat-shop-type ergonomic set up we were used to in the past. By that I mean, the offices are now carpeted and have air conditioning for the most part which is a vast improvement in my opinion.

I arrived at the RGD to a full office of waiting citizens.  The place was jam packed and from listening to them, learnt that the place was now empty compared to earlier that day.  It took us about 1 hr to get through after getting a # that was next in line.  When we enquired, we were told that some persons were before us who had to wait on something or the other and another person was doing a lot of things.  All in all, however, when it was our turn, we were in and out in approximately 15 minutes, not including paying the cashier for services rendered.

So, all in all, the experience does not have to be a frustrating one.  However, for some reason, people who work at these agencies seem to have the mobility of a snail, moving only that fast to get their job done.  What can also be annoying is seeing so many people behind a desk or PC who are not attending to the public and in our minds are not doing anything.  I’m ok with the small improvements made, but they have a long way to go.  There is just too much red tape required to get things done.  And … after receiving the Registration of Birth Form, I now have to wait 6 weeks before I can apply for copies of the actual birth certificate!  Why???? I wish I knew.

Just recently, the Ministry of Health announced that persons would be allowed to register their children at the Registrar even if they have not paid their hospital bills.  What obtains now is that the hospital provides you with the record of the birth of the child which is taken to the Registrar to have the child officially registered. However, if you fail to pay your hospital bill in full, this record is witheld until payment is received, thus preventing parents from registering their child.  I believe this to be plain negligence.  I agree that it is expensive, especially at a private hospital to have a child.  The government hospital charges next to nothing for the facility and still persons do not pay and then suffer when their child needs to attend school, do GSAT exams, etc.  The reports were that there were over 10,000 (I think) children who were not registered in Jamaica, hence the move to make the process easier.  IMHO, I’m not sure it will as the parents are just delinquent about getting things done.  With health care costs what they are, more persons will now abscond without paying knowing that the ultimate penalty of not being able to register the child is now no longer a reality.

Let’s see what happens with this one.


15 responses »

  1. Ah read somewhere that they actually leave de father’s info off de certificate sometimes even when de mother tries 2 force them 2 add it. In some ways, de bureaucrats just seem really spiteful 2 their own people & just really eager 2 trample on even an infant’s dignity.

  2. Hey, instead of actually improving customer service, let’s make the long wait more enjoyable! Thanks guys! Never fails to amaze me how incompetent Government agencies are.

  3. Melody, the father’s name is actually on the one I got. So, I guess they are wising up. They actually interviewed his father!!

    Leon, not sure how they can make the long wait more enjoyable. Only customer service could maybe achieve that.

  4. I’ve seen some changes but they are certainly slow in coming. About the father’s name the rule is that if the parents are not married both have to attend in order to have the father’s name included. Guess it’s just to avoid the lady giving some unknown guy “jacket”.

  5. Here the father’s is only added if he gives permission.Most children of unmarried parents end up taking take their mother’s name.I guess the men saying they not sure:)

  6. I think they usually include the father’s name if the father was present at the birth/hospital. I’m assuming Daddy was present, right CD?

    So that’s why plenty fathers are left off, cause how many of them own de pickney much less present demself at hospital

  7. Going to any government agency is a pain in the ass! It took me almost two hours to get my motor vehicle registration at the collectorate a few weeks ago. And i must agree with you when you say the pace of the employees are as snow as a snail!

  8. Ok, I agree that waiting is a pain, and I work in a situation where we get ribbed about the length of waiting time for clinics at the hospital occasionally. I do my endeavour best to move at a pace that is reasonable…weighing the risk of moving too quickly against the possibility that I could well make poor assessments/incorrect diagnoses and management decisions. Also, moving too swiftly lkeads to poor documentation….and in a situation where a lawsuit may arise, in many cases it is the notes that may help to bail a good doctor out of worries. Anyhow….I kinda drifitng…. Bear in mind, that though some govt. agency workers may move slowly…(perhaps a consequence of poor remuneration on the job and less than optimal work environments….though this is not necessarily an excuse for not giving one’s best)), there are others that do produce. I personally have seen improvements in the speed to get processed for renewal of cert. of fitness for car/renewing motor vehicle registration etc. Key is to avoid going at peak time during the day and I make the windows for credit card payments work for me. The line to pay cash is ALWAYS much longer. What can add to the frustration is the ‘shytstem’ that is put in place to get processed. Join this line to check documents…then join anodda line fe pay, etc etc!

    Last time I renewed my registration I believe I was in and out in less than 5 minutes! How’s that for a quickie CD!? 😉 (See, even though my car is shafted I can still mek joke. 🙂

  9. Hi CD. I have seen your comments around but this is the first time I am visiting your site. I am fascinated primarily because patience is a virtue that I have never possessed. I will be back.
    BTW. Congrats on Motherhood – its an absolute blessing!
    and RGD has actually improved I am sad to say. I was at a govt. agency in an even more backward Caribbean island and the lady went for lunch while we were standing in the line!! No one would leave either because they didn’t want to lose their place in the queue. I stood there steaming and cussing some green verbs.
    See? I really need some lessons in patience… 🙂

  10. Trust me, RGD is excellent, especially when you compare it to where it was coming from, rife with corruption. I know the lady who running it now, she is doing a great job.

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