THE EDITOR: Friends and family members returning from vacationing abroad have warned of a growing incompetence at Piarco Airport.
The kind of reception you get fluctuates from day to day. If it is not a long wait in the immigration line, it is harassment from Customs officers.
Returning citizens are often sleepy, hungry and tired and are in a hurry to get out of the airport.
Some may have pick-ups waiting for hours.
All over the world the priority is to get people out of the airport environment as quickly as possible.
Not in Trinidad. The aim here is to punish for having left the country.
The people who run the Immigration and Customs Departments forget that along with returning residents are tourists and investors.
The Government’s goal to attract tourists and investors sounds hollow.
Some years ago a sensible government recognised that people who travel abroad are bound to buy gifts and wisely allocated a personal allowance which is inscribed on the Customs form. It also instituted a green line to facilitate speedy exit.
Apparently these have been thrown in the dustbin and the present administrators of the airport have gone back to the old bureaucratic system with the addition of total scanning.
Since people coming from the US are given a thorough check-out before embarking, I suspect the aim here is to raise money to replace what is wasted elsewhere.
The airport is a sensitive area. Visitors get their first impression of the country there.
Residents are accustomed to the discourtesy and sometimes crass behaviour of airport personnel, and do not complain.
Workers at the airport need to meet certain aptitude standards and should be trained accordingly.
But one is not sure what the official objective is. As for the taxi drivers, that is a whole sorry story.