KARACHI: Mobile-phone carriers, who have already spent Rs2.5 billion on biometric devices, are set to spend many times more this year on the Subscriber Identification Module (Sim) re-verification drive.

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Telenor CEO Michael Patrick Foley said that as many as 103 million SIMs would be verified using the Biometric Verification System (BVS) under the ongoing 90-day drive — from Jan 16 to Apr 13, which has been divided in two phases.

However, people who have three or more Sims per operator on their CNICs have to get their Sims verified before Feb 26, the last date of the first phase of the drive.

“Presently, BVS is the best technology available, and it would help law enforcement agencies do their jobs more effectively,” he said.

Although three months “is a very short time for the task”, he said, the Dec 16 attack on a Peshawar school “left us with no reason to whine about the time limit”. Given the figures, 103m Sims, 60,000 biometric devices and 90 days, provided by the telecoms industry, the re-verification drive can be anything but difficult, on paper at least. Doing simple math suggests that a device has to verify only 19 Sims daily.

But the long queues that have been forming outside most franchises paint a different picture. “I have been waiting for my turn for more than half an hour. Of course I don’t have whole day for this,” said an irate customer standing in one such queue.

Adding injury to insult is the fact that some retailers are reportedly cashing in on the situation by charging Rs20 or more for each verification against the official rate of Rs10.

Published in Dawn January 27th, 2015

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