Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 15th 2014 Contents A7
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The backlog of passports at the
Immigration Division has affected
T&T s international reputation
and could also affect the opera-
tions of state carrier Caribbean
So said acting mayor of San Fer-
nando Junia Regrello as he visited
the San Fernando Immigration
Division, Knox Street, San Fernan-
Despite an injunction to halt all
industrial action and a court order
mandating workers to return to
duty, the San Fernando office was
almost devoid of staff yesterday.
The second floor of the building
was empty. A source said over 80
per cent of workers did not turn
up for work. Senior immigration
officers were seen leaving the build-
Regrello, who spoke to immi-
gration staff and customers, said
the impasse with the Public Service
Association must be addressed
"This has far-reaching conse-
quences. While the immigration
workers have their issues, the Gov-
ernment must realise that this is
hurting T&T s reputation interna-
tionally. Flights are being cancelled
and people are losing money,"
He added that under the PNM
administration, Prime Minister
Patrick Manning had started con-
structing the government campus
at Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain,
to house the Immigration Division.
"It does not matter who started
the building, the Government
should complete it as quick as pos-
"If this building was completed
the immigration staff would be
accommodated in a proper facility
and the country would not be suf-
fering as it is today," Regrello said.
can hit CAL
communications manager Clint
Williams said yesterday he
would have to enquire whether
CAL had been affected by the
immigration crisis before
making a comment.
Finance Minister Larry Howai
said earlier this month CAL had
suffered a loss of just under
$100 million for the financial
year 2013 but was hoping to
reduce its losses under new
CEO Michael Dilollo.
IMPACT ON CAL
Staff at the Port-of-Spain passport office will be asked to work overtime to
deal with the backlog of passports, says deputy chief immigration officer
Commenting on the backlog of applications, she said: "I can't give you a
figure with regard to the backlog but certainly we will have to ask officers to
come out and work overtime and put other measures in place to bring the
work back up to where it should be... we are hoping at least within two
months, because of the number of passport applications that we have, not
only for T&T, but for those persons who are living abroad.
"We are trying to take care of the immediate needs and then we can go to
those other persons who are applying for passports for the first time as we
get things back on stream."
The office opened yesterday for normal working hours --- 7am to 3 pm ---
but only dealt with issuing passports and renewals.
Gandhi-Andrews added: "We tried to take care of the immediate needs,
given the situation, and we have been, of course, issuing passports, which was
the most immediate need, and those persons who require renewals because
that's a shorter process.
"A first-time application is a longer process that requires more interaction
with the officer."
Meanwhile, angry customers
continued to heap scorn on immi-
gration staff, saying they were
holding the nation to ransom.
Referring to PSA president
Watson Duke, one man ex-
claimed: "Jail Duke now," after
being told he had to return on
July 30 to get an extension.
On the third floor, where ex-
tensions are given, a senior immi-
gration office said extensions
could not be granted in San Fer-
nando as staff had no access to
Janice John said: "They are
wasting our time here. The immi-
gration officer said all they are
doing is allowing people to collect
passports which are already
processed. People cannot get ex-
tensions or apply for machine-
All passports are produced at
the Port-of-Spain office.
Vishnu Baboolal, who was try-
ing to get a passport for his four-
month-old son, said staff should
stop wasting the public's time.
"They telling us to come to col-
lect and when we get here they
turning us away. This is real non-
sense," Baboolal added.
Brian Manchabali said the im-
migration crisis was carefully
planned to cripple T&T.
"This is peak travel time and
they are deliberately inconve-
niencing the population. This will
hurt our economy. People have to
put their flights on hold or pay
penalty fees," Manchabali said.
Acting mayor of San Fernando Junia Regrello speaks to a security guard before entering the Immigration
Division, San Fernando, yesterday. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
Two months after the Port-of-
Spain passport office was first shut
down by staff because of health and
safety issues, renovation work at
the Frederick Street building is
almost complete and operations are
expected to return to normal.
So said Housing Minister Dr
Roodal Moonilal after he toured the
building on Frederick Street with
National Security Minister Gary Grif-
fith, Urban Development Corporation
chairman Jearlean John and deputy
chief immigration officer Charmaine
Moonilal said: "This is not some-
thing unusual for us. We have a pro-
gramme of all ministries and divisions
across the country where, depending
on the complaints we receive, we will
visit departments to undertake
upgrade and enhancement works.
"But because of the problems we
were having over the last few weeks
I thought it necessary to come take
a look at the work myself."
The Port-of-Spain passport office
was closed on May 14 because of
health and safety issues.
Asked why the Government had
taken so long to act, Griffith said:
"We are fully aware that from day
one there has been a lot of dialogue
between the Government and the
PSA. Obviously we could not operate
on a knee-jerk action."
Moonilal said most of the work
was done over the weekend and
included minor repairs.
He added: "A lot of work has taken
place on the weekend in particular.
This included ceiling fixtures, roofing
problems, to simple things like bulb-
changing. So a lot has been done.
"We hope this would lead to a full
eight-hour work day for the office
and that the public doesn t feel fur-
Moonilal said works were expected
to be completed within a week.
Immigration Division impasse:
San Fernando public upset
OVERTIME TO CATCH UP
Links Archive July 14th 2014 July 16th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page