IDCard-1

Rigorous security checks in the city have prompted enthusiasm for the document.

Following on-going security raids in Douala, several residents have been rushing to acquire National Identity Cards. The raids in neighbourhoods, which come after recent suicide bomb attacks in the Far North Region by suspected Boko Haram terrorists, have reminded many of the importance and necessity of this basic national document.

Every day, Douala police stations and other identification centres receive over 700 people wishing to acquire the identification card. Over 250 of the cards are issued in most police stations and centres each day. Each day of the working week witnesses a teeming population of anxious people waiting in long queues to have the document. Some people spend more than a day in order to have the opportunity to get the card issued to them. Stressful as the long wait is, and given the rains and hot climate, which are exacerbated by overcrowding in front the stations, the experience seems to have caused many to begin to be patient.

A police source says only a few weeks before, as few as 70-80 people turned up each day for National Identity Cards in most of Douala’s 17 police stations in charge of issuing them. Meanwhile, many more people are turning up to collect the 111,000 cards abandoned at police stations before the 2013 legislative and municipal elections. At the 7th and 8th District Public Security Police Stations, over 13,000 ID cards are pending collection. Some of the cards, however, have expired and owners coming for them only realize they ought to get new ones.

Although people start queuing up as early as about 6 am, they have to wait until 7:30 am when police officers start work or until 4 pm when the stations close. Even so, workers are unable to serve everyone on the queue because of the burgeoning population in the need of the document. A three-month valid receipt is issued to everyone who successfully goes through the process. Holders of the receipts are expected to come for the computerised ID at the end of the three months.