Friday, February 13, 2009

Aukje de Vries' Diary Day 26

I also have come across the municipal bureaucracy twice this week. And bravo for The Hague, it has gone smoothly. My passport expired on 2nd February. Well ahead of time I received a message, reminding me of this fact and telling me where I could get a new passport, what the opening hours are of these offices (each of them has a late opening once a week) and what to bring.

On the 2nd of February I went to one of these offices, was helped by an efficient lady, paid my dues, was allowed to keep my old passport, because it was still valid that very day and was told I could pick up the new passport a week later. When I entered this week, the office was rather crowded, but because I only had to get the passport, I could go to a window where I was served immediately. On the way out I picked up a comprehensive directory of all municipal and related services in the entire city. It is a book that is meant for new inhabitants of The Hague, but for other residents it is very useful as well. Free of charge.

My second experience has to do with garbage collection. I had found my garbage can, provided by the municipality, damaged after it had been emptied. The lid was no longer attached to the can, which is unpractical when using it. I expected I would have to call the office of my city section. The Hague, with 470,000 inhabitants has divided the city into 8 administrative sections, to bring services closer to the citizens. In the phone directory I could find only one number for the entire city. I was afraid I would have to make a long chain of calls before I would have reached the right person, but after having indicated in which part of town I live, I was connected with a lady answering me who told me she would deal with the matter. I was to receive a message within a week in which I would be told when the municipality will come to repair or exchange the can and if the date is not convenient, there is a telephone number to call to change the date. Indeed, the message arrived within a week. I’ll have to deposit the old can on my doorstep where a new one will be delivered. I do not even have to stay at home.

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