Complaints that must be checked
Guest Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
December 11, 2002

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IT WOULD be more than surprising if the authorities are not actively looking into the serious complaints and allegations made over the past three weeks about the experiences of visitors to Barbados at the Grantley Adams International Airport.

In particular, the most recent charges levelled at Immigration and Customs officers, in addition to the long wait even before the claimed frustrating experiences at the hands of Immigration and then Customs officers.

Prior to those specific charges last week, as laid by a high profile private sector official of the Caribbean Community, Gary Voss, president of the Port-of-Spain-based Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC), there was the strong complaint by Guyana’s President, Bharrat Jagdeo, about “second class treatment” of Guyanese at the airport.

The Guyanese President, Chairman of CARICOM, chose the occasion of a meeting in Barbados on November 6 to make his case against what he considers to be an ongoing “unfair” and discriminatory treatment of his country folks by Immigration at Grantley Adams.

In the communiqué released to the media at the conclusion of that meeting by the community secretariat, the diplomatic language did not conceal the seriousness attached to Jagdeo’s complaint. It was stated that the “particular concern raised over the treatment to Guyanese [no airport or country named] “was unacceptable both in the law and the spirit of the Community”.

It is appropriate to recall here that during the CARICOM Summit in July in Georgetown, a bilateral agreement was signed between Barbados and Guyana with the intention of improving relations and in particular to remove irritants involving their nationals and Immigration.

Now comes the CAIC’s president with his scathing criticisms, as reported in the ‘Saturday Sun’ of the long periods of waiting to pass through Immigration and Customs and the surprising unwelcome attitude and level of inefficiency by officers of these services.

The CAIC’s official, a frequent visitor to this country, pointed to what seems so evident - that “welcoming is part of their role” - the more so in an economy heavily dependent on tourism. But Voss also took care to commend Barbados as a good place for business and the capacity of its people to “manage themselves better”.

This may appear a contradiction when related to the deficiencies complained about in relation to the operations of Immigration and Customs services.

However, in fairness to the officers of these public sector services themselves, as well as the business people, tourists and visitors in general, including Guyanese, there needs to be an urgent review, if one is not already in progress, of the operations of Immigration and Customs at Grantley Adams International Airport. (Reprinted from yesterday’s ‘Barbados Nation)’

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