Iris confident will complete Bangladesh passport job within 18 months

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DUBAI (June 26): Iris Corporation Bhd, which has secured a RM33.52 million contract to provide machine readable passport (MRP) enrolment data from the Bangladeshi government, is optimistic of completing the project within 18 months. Iris Trusted Identification Division CEO Datuk Hamdan Mohd Hassan said under the contract, the company must distribute these passports among the Bangladeshi expatriates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). "We are optimistic that we can enroll them within the required timeframe due to our partnership with UAE-based Grand Technology Resources (GTR) and Bangladesh-based technology distributor Computer Source Ltd (CSL), despite this being our first experience enrolling people," he told Bernama. He said these partners would map out the plan, as well as identify the areas and industries where the Bangladeshi expatriates are mostly located in the UAE. With the project, Iris is now present in 29 countries in the world in the trusted ID document space. "We anticipate about 1.5 million Bangladeshi in the UAE holding hand-written passports will benefit from the MRP as the International Civil Aviation Organisation directive requires all countries in the world to upgrade their passports at least to MRPs, if not electronic passports. "The new MRP has benefited the government in many ways compared with the conventional and manual way of producing the travel documents, in terms of saving manpower and cost in producing passports," he said. Newer technologies introduced in MRP production have also shortened the time in issuing the MRP to citizens. Hamdan said Iris and its consortium were only enrolling Bangladeshi citizens and then submitting the information to their government to produce the passports. "We are being paid US$13 (equivalent to approximately RM41.90) per enrollment and given the huge population, we expect this project to contribute significantly," he added. Meanwhile, GTR Chief Operations Officer Turialai Wafa said the company would set up five enrollment centres throughout the UAE, namely, in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah and Ajman. These centres would be manned by 10-12 enrollment executives, who would capture the biometrics of the Bangladeshi expatriates, their pictures and signatures. "As an effort to ease the process, we are considering for the operational hours of these centres to be between 2 pm and 11 pm, so that people who are working between 8 am and 5 pm would be in the position to use those centres as well," he added.