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No more immigration lines?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Immigration chaos and delays are not unusual at the Piarco International Airport. Just last November, when only two Immigration officers reported for duty, arriving passengers endured waits of as much as two hours.

Hundreds of passengers from several arriving international flights remained trapped in that chaos until relief came in the form of three additional officers who were called out to work.

It turned out on that day that an unusually high number of Immigration officers had called in sick and while the situation was suspected to be the result of industrial action, that was denied at the time.

Such situations highlight one of the vulnerabilities at Piarco, which is far from a user-friendly airport. It also illustrates the extent to which the country’s still-to-be-implemented tourism thrust could be off to a false start unless there are serious efforts to improve the experience for passengers at Piarco and the Arthur NR Robinson International Airport in Tobago.

Part of the upgrade will have to be customer service training for Immigration and Customs officers, as well as all other airport personnel who might be the first people visitors come into contact with when they disembark. A much easier undertaking might be the physical upgrades

That is why it was such a welcome development when self-service immigration kiosks were launched at Piarco on Monday.

In the coming weeks and months, this should result in quicker transit through Immigration to Customs and Excise for arriving passengers.

This is one of many improvements needed to bring T&T’s airports up to international standards.

Another crime plan

From all appearances, there will be a lot of pomp and ceremony at today’s launch of the National Crime Prevention Programme (NCPP) by the Ministry of National Security.

The launch, which takes place at the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, will feature a keynote address by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. A host of dignitaries will attend.

However, what makes this crime plan new, different and more likely to succeed than past efforts remains to be seen.

But in a nation battered by high levels of violence and insecurity, there simply is no room for another failed anti-crime initiative.

A world-class effort

Young businessman James Burns, who has created an exclusive range of chocolates for Starbucks in T&T and is on the verge of breaking into international markets with his JB Chocolates brand, should be commended for his efforts in producing and promoting products made with T&T’s world-class Trintario cocoa beans.


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