Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Bid to relocate passport machine
Government is yet to decide whether the Immigration Division’s passport printing machine would be relocated from Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain so that processing of passports could continue. This recommendation was made by Minister of National Security Gary Griffith in response to escalating protest from staff at the Immigration Division. Griffith and a team of ministers including Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal met last night to discuss the protests.
On Thursday, immigration staff heeded a call from president of the Public Service Association Watson Duke to shut down the San Fernando and Port-of-Spain offices because of electrical and infrastructural problems. Since then hundreds of people have been unable to travel because they cannot get their passports. In an interview yesterday, Griffith said he planned to discuss the crisis with other ministers of government and Duke.
“I understand that Frederick Street office is not opening any time soon. I am trying to get this matter rectified as soon as possible so that people will be able to get their passports,” said Griffith. He added that the passport printing machine might be moved this weekend. A source at Immigration said it might take more than a week for the machine to be reassembled once it is moved.
Duke has already raised red flags about the relocation of the printing machine, saying proper security arrangements must be made to ensure it is not misused. Duke also said he would not allow employees’ safety to be jeopardised. Contacted after their meeting, Griffith said it was now uncertain whether the machine would be moved.
He said further questions should be directed to Chief Immigration Officer Gerry Downes and leader of Government Business Dr Roodal Moonilal, who chaired the meeting. When contacted, Downes said he was not authorised to speak. He said questions should be directed to Moonilal, who chaired the meeting, but who could not be reached for comment.