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Inhumane act on travellers—Rohan

Published: 
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan says the prolonged delay faced by passengers arriving at the Piarco International Airport on Sunday was uncalled for and inhumane.

Sinanan gave his views yesterday, even as Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and National Security Minister Edmund Dillon received a report into why hundreds of arriving passengers had to spend several hours waiting to be processed due to a planned sick-out by Immigration.

Only two immigration officers showed up for duty.

“It’s unfortunate that those officers would hold those people for that length of time there. However, it’s a matter to be dealt with by the Ministry of National Security and immigration officers,” Sinanan said.

In going forward, Sinanan said the incident had shown the need for electronic check-in machines at the Piarco and ANR Robinson airports.

“This is something Airport Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is considering at this point in time. I know the machines are way advanced in negotiations.”

As for how many of the machines will be installed and when, Sinanan could not say.

“I am hoping that we can get it done in the shortest possible time,” Sinanan assured.

He said if these machines were in use at the airport on Sunday, passengers would not have been affected.

“I was at the PNM convention when I got the call. I was really disappointed to know that people…tourists and visitors who arrived here, were stuck in the airport for as much as five hours. That was uncalled for and it was very inhumane by the people who decided to do that.”

He said if the AATT had delayed passengers for that long “I think somebody would have had to answer.”

Meanwhile, Minister in the Ministry of Attorney General and Legal Affairs Fitzgerald Hinds yesterday denied he was whisked away from the airport while hundreds of passengers were suffering.

Hinds was responding to a Whatsapp message former People’s Partnership minister Devant Maharaj sent to the media on Sunday, which pointed out that while scores of arriving passengers were left to suffer at the airport due to a shortage of immigration officers, Hinds was quickly processed at the airport and whisked away. Maharaj further blamed the chaos at the airport on the incompetence of Sinanan and the Rowley administration.

Yesterday, Hinds said the information sent out by Maharaj “is as far from the truth as Devant Maharaj is.” He denied he was whisked away or given special treatment by airport staff.

“No such thing happened. As every other VIP I walked calmly from the door of the aircraft to the Diplomatic Lounge where all ministers of government and other VIPs, visiting guests, departing guests and dignitaries have used perhaps since Independence.”

Hinds maintained that “I was never in any line, never saw any line and certainly was not whisked away.

He said Maharaj has demonstrated “time and time again a capacity for untruths which could easily mislead the weak, the misguided and the unsober.”

Asked if Maharaj was trying to create mischief, Hinds replied, “I don’t know if he is trying to create mischief, you know. I think he is mischief personified.