The 2018 edition of the T&T International marathon was dominated by foreign athletes. The 35th edition of the prestigious race was captured by Stephen Njoroge of Mexico.
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The Honourable Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was heard yet again talking down at the rest of the population particularly “…the most comfortable of public servants…” who “could find nothing to do but to absent themselves from work and hold the population hostage in Piarco Airport for five hours…”
What is the PM talking about? Who is holding the rest of the population to hostage? Is it really the Immigration Officers or is it the Government of the day? Truth be told, what occurred on that Sunday was a literal, figurative and metaphorical reflection of what is occurring throughout this country.
Firstly, citizens are breaking the law with impunity as a result of the national conditions which they have to contend with on a daily basis. Immigration Officers are part of the civil aviation industry, an essential service, and are therefore forbidden by law from taking any industrial action. According to them, their wages and conditions of work have become unendurable.
This is the cry of public servants across the board and the majority of workers of the nation. Many of them are not even receiving their salaries in a timely manner! How are people expected to survive under these conditions? On the wider scale, whilst it is not a defence to the commission of a crime, the fact is, unemployment has drastically escalated, people are without basic amenities, food prices and inflation rates are overwhelming. The conditions are ripe for the ongoing crime feast in the country.
What is a typical feature of the Government is its lack of proper management and cluelessness as to how to conduct the affairs of the state. Case in point would be the National Security Ministry. According to Immigration Officers, they were on pre-approved leave but it appears from reports that 14 officers were rostered for duty. Whatever may be the truth, the National Security Ministry, Immigration Division is obviously in shambles. On a national scale, crimes statistics are astronomical.
Perhaps the greatest irony of all that occurred was the fact that our roaming Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe was purportedly selling tourism in London saying that “T&T is reborn and refocused as a tourism destination and ready to do business” (Express Newspaper 9/11/17). Nothing could be further from the truth! Local big businesses described that Sunday’s ordeal as “a shame” and “tragic.”
Tourism cannot be promoted in a scenario where tourists potentially have a four to five-hour wait at the airport. But this ordeal for travellers is by no means limited to last Sunday. To travel to Tobago is absolute chaos at any given time. If you hit the social media sites, you will see videos of scenes coming out of Tobago illustrating what occurs on any long weekend or “holiday weekend” for travellers.
Frustrated travellers started chanting slogans, “we want service” amongst others. In response to this chaos, one politician commented on social media that “While Rowley and the PNM ramajay in the savannah, thousands remained trapped in line for immigration, and only one officer on duty.” This is true, but to me the bigger picture is that in our country, high level officials of the Government and State are accorded too much accommodation to the detriment of the rest of the population.
It was reported that one Minister of the Government was pulled away from the chaos and given special passage (possibly to reach the PNM function in the Savannah) far better than when you have a fast pass at Disney World Adventure Parks.
This obscene use of power, and in many instances it has been tantamount to an abuse of power, has been rampant under this administration. The children of a Minister wielding high-powered ammunition at Camp Cumuto and another Minister using the Barracks Shooting Range are examples of the Government’s excesses.
The fact that these said personalities, who lack moral authority, will now seek to discipline the Immigration Officers will add to the already bitter taste in our mouths.
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