Immigration officers go to work every day in a mold and fungus-infested building that is nothing but a public safety and health hazard, according to a Government employee.
On the day the minister charged with responsibility for the Immigration Department Senator Darcy Boyce announced that the department would be moving next June to the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc car park on Princess Alice Highway, Barbados TODAY was shown photographs that reveal the current home at Careenage House on Wharf Road as decayed and filthy.
Boyce said Wednesday the building was in dire need of repair, and the photographs and the story of woe told by the employee tell a tale of a working environment that is beyond the imagination.
According to the source, who requested anonymity, the building was condemned as unfit over six years ago and the worsening conditions are a major cause for concern.
The appointed Government employee told Barbados TODAY co-workers were falling ill and developing respiratory problems due to the inhumane conditions.
Initially, the workers were told their move to a new office would coincide with the 50th anniversary celebrations.
Now, the officer said they were being told they must wait until June next year.
“We’re being told that, ‘oh well, we’re supposed to be moving’, but can you just hold out and hope that ‘ok we going to move’ if it hasn’t really come to fruition to the length of time that they have been saying?” questioned the longstanding employee.
The source disclosed that in 2011 the Environmental Protection Department conducted an air quality assessment, and while there were reports that the building had failed, the workers never got to see the official findings.
“The report was supposed to be disseminated among the staff so that they can be made aware of the findings but the then chief, she didn’t show it,” the source revealed.
In graphic details, the officer described how mold had infested the employee toilets, causing much worry among staff.
“They had an issue where they found mold growing in the toilet, in the receptacles in the female bathroom, so now female members of staff are bringing their own toilet paper.
“After they found the mold in the toilet receptacles they got the building cleaned that weekend but . . . you might clean the surface but it’s still there,” the source explained.
According to the employee, one particular vault in the department was so badly overtaken by mold that staff were now referring to it as the Green Room, and “nobody don’t go in there, they have it locked off”.
Exasperated by the aggravating situation that has persisted for over six years, the officer complained that while both the management of the Immigration Department and the National Union of Public Workers had been made aware of their plight, no one had come to their aid.
Yet, the employee said, the immigration officers have not made a big fuss about it.
“I believe that the people who work in my department should be commended . . . because we have not gone on strike, we have never seen people go on sick outs, nothing like that. They complain about how sick it is making them, but they do go to work,” the officer told Barbados TODAY.
Boyce Wednesday told a citizenship ceremony for over 100 immigrants he would hold those responsible accountable to ensure immigration officers would move to their new office next year.