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‘A few satisfied customers’

40 drop-box applications; some passports distributed...

By Port of Spain \\\\\ Michelle Loubon

An Immigration officer yesterday said there were about 40 drop-box applications for passport renewals at the Immigration Office at Frederick Street, Port of Spain. 

While he could not give the exact number of passports which were distri­buted, he said a few people had gotten theirs.

And although working hours have resumed from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., the office was not operating at its full capacity because all the staff had not reported for duty yesterday. 

Asked to give an update on operations, he said: “We got about 40 drop-box applications today (yesterday). Mainly people who are due for renewals. We gave out a few passports but, as you can see, we don’t have the full complement of staff. We had a few satisfied customers.”

Similar to previous days, citizens received passport forms, but they failed to get the much-sought-after passports. Among those registering her angst was St Joseph Village’s Marsha Ramoutar, who braved the inclement weather to get to the office.

She said: “I had to leave my boutique. I applied a month ago. Immigration said it would be ready in two weeks. But it isn’t. I think (Public Services Association head Watson) Duke and the Prime Minister (Kamla Persad-Bissessar) should get together and talk about the problem. I am sure both of them have their passports. It is the citizens who are being affected.”

Morvant resident Florence said: “This is the third time I have been here in a short space of time. But I have not yet gotten it (passport).” 

Meanwhile, compared to previous days, there were more people, including a few children, seated in the waiting room of the office yesterday. The cashier was tending to customers. A man wheeled three cases of soft drinks inside for the snack machine, which had been removed from the front entrance and relocated obliquely opposite the cashier’s booth.

Outside, former tourism minister Joseph Ross drove past en route to the Board of Inland Revenue Office. Pausing briefly, he enquired about the quality of service from an Immigration officer. Then he honked his horn and drove off.

Efforts to contact Duke were futile.

Cruise-bound

“I got it.”

Pleased as punch, St Joseph resident Yvette Andrews was one of the lucky citizens who got her passport yesterday. 

Andrews, 60, a retired loans officer at Neal and Massy Credit Union, said: “I feel relieved. I am glad they are back out to work. I applied for it on May 13. I was supposed to get it in two weeks. It was ready around June 17.

“Every time I called, I was not getting any answer. I am going on a Caribbean cruise with my sisters in August.”

Andrews also said she hoped the matter would be resolved because “it places too much tension on the public”. 

Led by president of the Public Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke, employees have engaged in protest action over health and safety issues.

Last Thursday, Labour Minister Errol McLeod filed an injunction restraining workers from protesting, but they have continued. 

The minister then initiated contempt-of-court proceedings against Duke and asked the Industrial Court to imprison him.

On Monday, Minister of Housing Roodal Moonilal, National Security Minister Gary Griffith and managing director of the Housing Development Corporation Jearlean John toured the Port of Spain Immigration office on Frederick Street.

John said about 95 per cent of the work was completed and staff would be relocated to Government Campus Plaza at Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, by March 2015.

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