Go-slow yields mixed results

Today’s go-slow by Customs and Immigration officers had contrasting effects on the island’s critical ports of entry.

The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) announced yesterday that employees of the Customs and Immigration department at both the air and sea ports would begin a go-slow today, joining striking sanitation workers in industrial action over the forced retirement of ten Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) staffers, who have reached the age of 60.

At the Bridgetown Port, the industrial action affected the delivery of cargo, with Chief Executive Officer of Barbados Port Inc. David Jean-Marie revealing that the slow rate of delivery had caused a major backlog.

The Bridgetown Port
The Bridgetown Port

“The Customs have slowed down the processing of documents to the extent that we are only able to deliver two containers per hour, when the normal rate is in the region of 20 per hour. So clearly, there is a backlog,” Jean-Marie told Barbados TODAY.

He also said he was concerned that the industrial action would have adverse effects on the port and the country if it continued for much longer.

“This will impact on the supply of goods to the country and the [port upgrade] project that is ongoing. So this is not something that we could sustain on a long-term basis; so we would obviously wish to see it solved. But we are at work. The port is open and until now, we want to work,” the CEO said.

Jean-Marie reported better news with regards to cruise vessels, telling Barbados TODAY that those ships were being serviced “so far”.

By contrast, it was business as usual at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), with officials reporting no adverse effects.

Arriving passengers experienced no unusual delays at Customs or Immigration despite the fact that three flights had landed within minutes of each other.

During much of the day, operations appeared quiet with nothing out-of-the ordinary evident. The only exception  was a meeting between a team of senior police officers and management of the airport.

One senior police officer said the meeting was to discuss contingency plans “just in case something happens”.

“You can never tell what can happen. If anything happens, we will be ready. But right now, we don’t have anybody on standby,” said the officer, who spoke to Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak.

GAIA Corporate Communications Officer Keith Goddard said the airport authorities had been monitoring operations throughout the day, and there was no disruption in travel in or out of the island.

Goddard also said there were no unusual changes to the way business was conducted, but that authorities would continue to monitor the situation.

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