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Immigration office in city shuts down
The Immigration Division office in Port-of-Spain has been closed indefinitely after staff vacated the premises due to health and safety concerns. The office which had been operating for half-day for the last week was ordered shut by the Ministry of National Security on Wednesday. People seeking new machine readable passports are being advised to visit other branches at Sangre Grande, Chaguanas, San Fernando, Pt Fortin and Tobago between the hours of 7 am and 3 pm, a statement from the National Security Ministry said.
On May 14, Public Service Association president Watson Duke deemed the office unsafe and advised workers to sign the register and leave the premises. While for some the shutdown has caused unexpected stress, for others the process remains as challenging as it was before the office was closed. A Venezuelan woman, who has been living in Trinidad for 20 years and has been trying obtain citizenship since 2001, was neutral about the shutdown. Well before the shutdown, she said she experienced great difficulty getting her application processed. She says her file is just too thick and that the Immigration office just does not have the personnel to deal with it. “Papers they asking me for, papers I have been providing and still they say ‘nothing is happening to you. It’s just that we don’t have enough personnel to do X, Y and Z.’ How long you expecting to keep me waiting like this?” she asked.
Duke was confident the matter would be resolved by the end of next month. Speaking by telephone on Monday, he said the closure of the office was being taken quite seriously and that they had already begun to relocate offices. “We have entered into a good faith relationship. We believe that they will act in good faith. Failure to do so will result in the PSA and its members taking appropriate action,” Duke warned.