Due to increased border patrol security at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), immigration officials are no longer needed in the airport’s departure lounge.
Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson today revealed that these officials would be relocated from that area along with some of those from the arrival hall.
He admitted that while the move had been attempted unsuccessfully on two previous occasions he believed it would be successful this time around.
“The Cabinet of Barbados has agreed that the immigration department officials will be removed from the departure hall as of February 1. This has been tried on two previous occasions and on both occasions immigration officials were reinstated there. Both administrations have tried this, only to put immigration back in.
“We are confident that we can try this again because of the enhanced border security details that are now available and that have been put in place because of the APIS (Advanced Passenger Information System), the real-time transmission of information of each and every passenger that is now available to the authority of Barbados and that is the main reason why immigration was restored in the past,” Hinkson said.
“The public of Barbados can be fully satisfied that we will not compromise the security of our borders in any way,” he assured.
Hinkson said currently there were times when there was a backup of people after they had booked into the departure lounge sometimes because of the “three layers of security” with which passengers were confronted.
That he said began with a guard situated outside the departure hall who checked passports to ensure the picture and the holder of that passport matched, followed by a further checked by immigration officials inside and then for a baggage inspection check.
“Of necessity with one of the layers there is a backup and long lines of people, some of whom need to board the flight because the flight is going to leave soon, people are getting nervous and all of this can negatively impact on your experience in Barbados even though you’ve had a great time,” Hinkson said.
“Therefore Cabinet has decided to remove one of the layers and we are satisfied that this can be done.”
He said immigration officials would still remain at the airport to question suspicious persons.