15.00-16.15, STANDING ROOM ONLY
Not only was the waiting-room completely full, there was an overflow outside! At least, the people outside had some fresh air – inside was stiflingly hot. In addition, the applicants for magnetic cards who had been sitting there since morning had also to suffer the noise of that ridiculous repeated announcement explaining the 5-stage procedure for getting a card.
Admission was impossibly slow. When we arrived, no. 72 was called – in contrast to last week (which itself was very bad) when at the same hour they had reached no. 125. This confirmed everyone’s complaints to us about the lack of service during the morning. When we phoned, a soldier said he would check and, indeed, shortly afterwards the admission picked up speed. But here were people with numbers up to 200 and it was clear that they would not manage to enter before closing time. When we left – which we unfortunately had to do at 16.15 – the last number called so far was 109. But this probably does not reflect the true number of people who entered, because some gave up, not being able to stand the conditions in the waiting-room.
Do we need to repeat that some people were making their second or third attempts at getting cards?
A few people came for special permits and they were admitted – but after some shouting to attract the attention of the soldier who was sitting at the window, but out of view (and hearing) of the public.
One man who claimed to be a VIP tried to enter, by getting a woman who had succeeded in approaching the soldier, to flash his card – but without success. With our help he spoke on the phone to someone at the DCO office who must have given him advice, because we saw him later approach the check-in and punch in his I.D. number (presumably), after which he (with his party) was quickly admitted. We have noticed previously that according to I.D. numbers, some applicants are admitted preferentially. Anyway, they later came out and sat in the waiting-room and afterwards disappeared.
We did suggest when we phoned at 15.00 that an officer come down to the waiting-room to see for him/herself what the conditions were like – but to this there was no response!