For a month and a half, Rishi Ramcharan has been trying to get a police certificate of character for a job application. He has been to police stations in Arouca, Tunapuna and St Joseph and was told either the system was down or the stations were not doing the certificates.
Ramcharan is afraid he will miss his job opportunity if he does not get the certificate. He is applying for a pilot's job outside Trinidad and does not want to tell his potential employer he cannot complete the application because his country cannot provide a certificate of good character in time.
"It's beyond ridiculous...If they say, 'Come,' I would lose my place."
Before the pandemic, he worked in the Maldives as a pilot, but lost his job when flights weree grounded. Every year he got his certificate of character there by applying for it online.
He already has a digital copy of his certificate of good character from the Maldives. He signed up for it online by submitting a photo, the front page of his passport and a letter from his employer.
"I did everything online. No fingerprint requirement."
He does not understand why there is no centralised database in Trinidad and Tobago where he can enter his name and personal identification number on his birth certificate and get the necessary documents from the government.
"I don't understand why I can't sign up for it online. Why do I have to dip my finger in ink – the same nasty ink criminals and gunmen touch – every time to get a new certificate of character?"
He said he is not the only person who would be struggling to get a job because certificates of character are unavailable.
"How many people need these to get jobs right now? If you are a taxi driver, you need a certificate. If you have to apply as a security guard, you need a certificate. This is keeping back everyone's job applications," Ramcharan said.
Manager of police corporate communications Francis Joseph confirmed that for more than a month the certificate of character system has been out of action. He said he could not say what was wrong with the system or when it would be functional again.
"It will be fixed and be back up shortly," he told Newsday by phone.