Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 22nd 2014 Contents A13
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
First-time passport applications are
now being accepted at the Port-of-
Spain passport office, but the backlog
of applications waiting to be processed
still persists, according to staff.
When the T&T Guardian visited the
office yesterday, immigration staff said
the office was accepting first-time
applications and renewals, and issuing
However, members of the public are
being told that unless they have an
emergency, they have to wait.
One individual, who planned to travel
with his family on August 15, said he
had applied since May and was yet to
get a definite answer about his appli-
"Today they told me it s still scan-
ning. They said if you have a medical
condition and something from a doctor,
they will give you the passport. I have
tickets to fly out on August 15 and I
just can t get the passports. I really
don t know what to do now."
Displaying copies of his flight itin-
erary, another person said although he
did not have a medical condition, his
situation was still an emergency.
"I have an appointment at the Ger-
man embassy on August 5 and I m fly-
ing out on August 13. Since last month
I ve been trying and they told me a
month again, so all this money---about
$30,000---I will lose because it s a non-
refundable, non-transferable package
I got to go Italy.
"All they telling you is they re doing
emergency. How much emergency it
have? This is an emergency, because I
could lose over $30,000."
Some people, although they were
unsuccessful in getting their passports,
were nevertheless pleased with the
service at the office.
"They seem to be quite organised,
working at full force but regrettably
they say that there are thousands of
applications in before my own and it
would take two weeks minimum before
I hear anything from them," said an
individual who was visiting the office
for the third time.
"I travel on Friday, so it doesn t look
too positive but they seem to be trying,"
Another person was actually
impressed with the prompt service at
"I applied last week Tuesday and I
got it today. I need it for work. There
is a process to go through and once
you have a proper letter stating the rea-
son you need it, you submit that and
you will get it expedited. I waited about
20 minutes today," he said.
backlog still persists
Director in the
Ministry of Foreign
Affairs in charge of
Africa, Asia Middle
East and Pacific
Herbert, signs the
during the formal
opening of the
years of diplomatic
The event was held
yesterday at the
museum. Looking on
is first secretary and
public relations and
cultural officer of the
Embassy of Japan
Trinidadian Radica Maharaj, who
lives in Florida, broke down in tears
yesterday, pleading for her family s
new T&T passports so they can travel
to Canada for her son s wedding next
She said she and her family were now
stranded in the United States and could
not leave because their old passports
had expired and they have been waiting
since May for their new machine-read-
"I need my passport to travel. My
son is getting married. I need to make
travel plans," she said.
The T&T Consulate office had told
her only doing emergency cases were
being handled, saying "only a death is
"This is my first child," Maharaj said,
sobbing. "I feel like I am so stressed
out and so fed up that this is happening."
Maharaj, 50, said the consulate told
her protest action by Immigration Divi-
sion staff in May and June had created
delays in processing passports.
"Twice for the month of May they
sent down the passports and do not
know if the passports were in the first
batch in the beginning of May or sent
in the second batch in the diplomatic
bag," she said.
Maharaj said the consulate staff said
there was no one to receive the passports
in T&T and they were not certain when
she could get the family s passports.
Yesterday Maharaj, the mother of
three, who is originally from Santa Cruz,
turned to the T&T Guardian after her
pleas fell on deaf ears at the T&T Con-
sulate in Miami.
She said on May 8 her husband Khas-
raj, daughter Ambika, son Kavir and
mother Tara made the three-hour jour-
ney from their home to the consulate
in Miami to apply for their new pass-
Since then, she said, they have had
no proper estimate as to when they
would get them.
"If this continues there is no other
way I could travel without the passport.
I do not want to miss being part of my
son s wedding. I asked for an extension
and (they) said that they do not give
extensions of the machine-readable
passports," she added.
She said she felt her family was being
punished for doing the right thing by
getting their new passports, since their
old ones would expire next year.
Those passports, she said, were no
longer valid since the staff had cut the
corners on each one.
When contacted staff at the consulate
said consul general Dr Anil Ramnanan
had left for the day but would contact
the T&T Guardian. Up to late yesterday
he had not done so.
...Tears flow at South office
In the Immigration Division in
San Fernando yesterday, rows of
chairs for clients stood empty, but
staff were on hand to serve.
The scene was unlike weeks
before, when many people were
clamouring for passports but there
was no staff. Yesterday staff were
at work but few customers turned
SANDO WORKERS COME OUT
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