Monday, February 19, 2018

...South office still turning away citizens

DESPITE a court injunction, and an appeal by acting Prime Minister Errol McLeod, workers at the San Fernando Immigration Department continued to turn away citizens yesterday.

Only passports and passport forms were being issued.

A family of five showed up for an appointment they had at 10 a.m. only to be told they needed to be rescheduled. Others were told to try other immigration offices in Chaguanas. 

Last Thursday, Government obtained an exparte injunction preventing closures of the offices in the country’s two cities. Both offices were opened on Friday.

However on Monday, the office in San Fernando was again closed. Since then “limited services” have been available, while scores of people have been turned away, some in tears.

At the San Fernando office, not everyone is allowed to enter the compound.

At the main gate, a staff member or police officer makes enquiries when someone approaches the building.




 n Elderly couple Wilfred and Winnifred Pierre travelled from Port of Spain  to collect their passports but were told the documents were not ready. Wilfred Pierre, 60, said he and his wife applied last month for their passports and were told to return in five weeks. Seven weeks have passed and the passports are not yet available.

Pierre said he was hoping to get his 

passport soon so he could seek medical 

treatment in the US. Pierre who walks with the support of a cane injured his legs after falling from a height of 16 feet, five years ago.

If collecting passports or forms, then that person is allowed on the compound.

Only one out of the two doors to the main waiting area is accessible to the public.

There are three police officers at the office, with more patrolling nearby streets.

The Express was told transactions were conducted during the usual 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. shift but no one could say when all transactions would resume.

Staff also declined to say what was wrong with the Immigration Department building which caused them to walk off the job citing health and safety concerns.

Dhaniram Tikasingh who showed up at the Knox Street office with his wife and three children said they were given a number to call to be given another appointment date. All their passports have expired and the family is thinking about planning a vacation trip to the United States.

Tikasingh, of Ben Lomond, Williamsville, said, “We called the number they gave us and we were told to go on August 7 to the Chaguanas Immigration office. All of us are disappointed because we were looking forward to getting this sorted out. I took a day off from work to come here. It is frustrating.”

Another woman complained that she too took a day off from work to keep her appointment only to be left disappointed.

“This is crazy. I took a day off from work and I am not going to get paid for it. Those workers are still getting paid when they don’t work. This is ridiculous!” she exclaimed.