Former president of the San Juan Business Association Imtiaz Ali said, “We are perpetuating a culture of laziness and low performance.”
Ali, who is optimistic about travelling to the United Kingdom in September, made this comment yesterday outside the Immigration Office on Frederick Street, Port of Spain.
He was among a group of about 50 disappointed people who were attempting to obtain or renew their passports and conduct other business transactions. Ali added, “That is why they have to bring in Jamaicans to do the jobs.”
As more people turned up, there were pursed lips, squints and scowls and a myriad number of facial expressions registering disappointment at the sight of locked doors. Some people turned around and left, at times letting out long steups. Others joined scores of disgruntled people who were huddled in small groups on either side of the road. Traffic moved at snail’s pace as commuters looked on.
People registered their angst at president of the Public Services’ Association (PSA) Watson Duke for spearheading the protest action based on health and safety issues. They were also incensed at Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Labour Minister Errol McLeod for not resolving the issue. Ace photographer Andrea De Silva threatened to sue the Immigration Department.
For the past 11 days, Petit Valley resident Glenn Massiah said he had been making the trek. “I have to seek medical help abroad in New York. I have to visit an African skin and blood specialist. Right now, I am living on coconut water and water. I can’t eat butter, cheese, milk nor drink juices. I have had to change the affidavits. I got in last week Thursday but I had to go back because the ID office (inside Immigration) was closed.”
Massiah added, “As far as I hear the PSA saying there are two new buildings. I left people crying because they had to fly today. The Government is supposed to step in a long time. Duke just coming and doing what he wants...and he has the public suffering. But I hope they are not moving them now. They have me in a ticklish situation. But to move them out of there now will be a problem for everyone. It takes about a week to move.”
Morvant resident Andre Waithe, 77, said: “I have to travel to New York. People need to get their passport to go to work. It is distressing because some people could lose their jobs.”
Charles Hing, 65, a resident of Sangre Grande left home around 6 a.m yesterday to visit the
Immigration Office in Port of Spain.
Hing said, “Duke said it is closed. He is not taking that. His workers come first. So nobody could go in. The guard asked me why I was standing outside, I told him I just delivered a letter. The workers just walked out. Some people just got passport forms. There were a lot of police.”
Hing said to compound the
situation Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was going to
Brazil for the World Cup.
“I hope McLeod (now Acting PM) will deal with it. I will have to monitor it on the news,” he said.