Long wait is unnecessary

I REFER to Ms Jovita O. Leano's letter headlined, ''All-day waiting'' (South China Morning Post, July 29).

A great number of people visit our Immigration Headquarters every day for various immigration services.

To ensure that applications are processed in an orderly and fair manner, we operate on a first-come-first-served basis. Applicants are given number tags to wait for their turn.

As Ms Leano did not provide specific details, it is not possible for us to look into her allegations and to give any comments.

However, applicants may choose to leave our offices and come back at a later time when their turn is due. Our officers are always willing to advise applicants on the approximate time to return upon request.

To cope with the ever-increasing volume of work without any corresponding increase in resources, the Immigration Department is constantly reviewing its policies and procedures with a view to enhancing productivity. We are also actively working on an information systems strategy. Intensive planning activities are being undertaken to design and develop a series of new automated systems.

Public offices will be computerised to a further extent to achieve quicker processing time and less visits by applicants.

We are confident that upon full implementation, our productivity and service to the public will be further improved.

Regarding the hygiene of the public toilets at our Immigration Headquarters, your reader may wish to note that we have a cleaning contractor responsible for the day-to-day cleaning.

However, due to the large number of applicants who attend our offices every day, it is difficult to maintain cleanliness and tidiness of the public toilets at all times without the co-operation of the public.

We appeal to users for their assistance in keeping the toilets clean. We have also requested the contractor to step up its daily cleaning services.

S. K. LEUNG for Director of Immigration