MPs dissatisfied with new Home Affairs system updates
The BMCS system is replacing the 2010 Movement Control System (eMCS) and enables the capturing of fingerprint and facial biometric data of all travellers who enter or exit South Africa.
Cape Town - The Department of Home Affairs report on challenges of the roll-out of the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) and the Biometric Movement Control System (BMCS) left MPS unimpressed and requesting a quarterly update moving forward.
The BMCS system is replacing the 2010 Movement Control System (eMCS) and enables the capturing of fingerprint and facial biometric data of all travellers who enter or exit South Africa.
According to the department, in the 2022/23 financial year the system was rolled out to 34 Ports of Entry and up to 30% of immigration counters.
The department`s deputy director-general for institutional planning and support, Thulani Mavuso, who presented to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on Tuesday, said they envisage 100% deployment of BMCS to 72 ports by March 31, 2024.
“Challenges include inadequate network bandwidth in the ports of entry due to delays in the SITA procurement processes. To deal with this, for ports of entry where time lines are not met by September 15, 2023, the department will request deviation from SITA processes and approach service providers directly in order to deliver on the project. We have had some delays with some of the ports that needed to be upgraded,” said Mavuso.
The department had entered into an agreement with IDEMIA in 2021 to deliver the ABIS project.
Phase 1 and 2 was marred by delays, date extensions, technical and operational issues.
Attempts were made to resolve the impasses with penalties.
“In the letter IDEMIA accepted full responsibility for the failure of their system in March 17, 2023 which led to a decision to switch back to HANIS as a primary database for all our transactions.
“IDEMIA confirmed that the ABIS Database index has been fixed / corrected, and that ABIS is ready to switch back as the primary database.
“DHA requested IDEMIA to also fix the stuck applications and provide the evidence that all the transaction errors are resolved.
“A meeting held on April 26, 2023 agreed that both IDEMIA and DHA technical teams must review progress made by IDEMIA on the stuck applications and report back in two weeks time before a decision is taken to switch back to ABIS as a primary database,” said Mavuso.
Committee chairperson Mosa Chabane said in the last briefing they were dissatisfied and they remain concerned.
“Going through the report I was able to identify there is no positive output in relation to the services our people have to receive from the department. I need to be upfront with the department in terms of what it needs to labour on. We need more details on the reasons given by IDEMIA for extensions and also what measures the department will take if they are tested and don’t have capacity. We have been dealing with these issues of IT infrastructure since 2019,” said Chabane.
ANC MP Mathedi Molekwa said the matter has been prolonged and the system was supposed to be operational to date.
“We need assurance and time frames for ABIS. This has been going on for a long time and it needs to end now.”
DA’s MP Thembisile Khanyile suggested that the department returns back to report about the two systems to track progress.
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