Always Putting The Cart Before The Horse

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This country seems to have a knack for putting the cart before the horse. There are grand ideas for improving life and operations, which are then undercut by the fact that not much effort goes into planning or implementation. The result: measures that are far from efficient, simply because of hiccups in their operationalization.

Case in point: the Automated Border Control Kiosk System recently introduced at the Piarco International Airport. These machines are supposed to ease the waiting times for returning nationals, by allowing them to scan their own passports and fingerprints, thereby “clearing” their re-entry into T&T. This system however can only be used by some persons. We understand that children and persons travelling with children have to queue as normal, since in T&T, it is illegal to scan the fingerprints of minors, even for immigration purposes. It should be noted that biometric fingerprint scanning for minors is done at major international airports around the world. There, laws are in place to cater for that specific function. Here, they are not.

During the last weekend of the August holidays, one observer at the Piarco International Airport noted that the kiosks remained unused, while travelers had to stand in long queues, because they were all coming from family trips with their children, and so could not use the systems. These kiosks by the way are covered by a seven-year contract worth $300 million. So much money for something that can only partially be used.

The real question is, was any in-depth research done to look at what needed to be in order before this system was rolled out at our airports? Did they take into account local immigration laws and what may have needed adjusting in order to ensure these machines work to the best of their ability? Or was it a case of “we see nice things in foreign and wanted it here too?”.

That is the multi-million dollar question.