BELMOPAN, Cayo District, Wed. Sept. 27, 2017–UDP political personalities, including sitting ministers, have all been documented in the special audit of the Immigration Department for their far reaching and unlawful interference in the work of the Immigration Department.
During today’s sitting of the Senate Select Committee, Director of the Immigration Department, Diana Locke, who appeared cool on the stand, revealed that cab drivers were also involved in the “grab tub” hustling so embarrassingly prevalent in the department.
For a fee, the taxi drivers can “jump” you to the front of the line
In response to a question put to her by Senator Mark Lizarraga, on whether she knew of any practices occurring today that appear to be corrupt, and involve officers in her department, Locke said, “Several complaints have been brought to my attention from members of the public who have been trying to access the immigration services. It stems from having to come from [as early as], some people have indicated, three-thirty in the morning, and getting a number to acquire the service. I have spoken to the immigration services section and they have explained to me what happens when an applicant gets inside the door… there were taxi drivers indicating that for a fee, they could get you to the front of the line….”
Senator Lizarraga asked her if she was “aware that persons are being asked to pay to move up in the line to get another number,” and if she could explain the “collusion taking place between those that issue the number and those that sell it.”
In response to that, Locke said: “Well, we have a numbering system from 1 to 50. From the time I got there, the numbers keep disappearing. The numbers have been disappearing; particularly the higher numbers from 1 to 10, 1 to 15. We’ve consistently made those numbers again and they keep disappearing. We’ve heard, one staff member has said to me, that she almost got into an altercation with a taxi driver who was taking her one evening to school and she saw the numbers in the taxi.”
Locke went on to remark, “So it’s clear that when people are not handing in those numbers, they are being left with the taxi drivers. I have had occasions where I have had to go in. I had a complaint from someone where they went there at 4:30 in the morning and they got number 16. We reviewed the camera and we were able to see that not that many people had gone there. What had been happening was that the security [guard] was making entries into the diary for people who had contacted them. I have no proof that there was a fee paid, but we do know that there were entries being made for people. So if you came at four in the morning, you may well have gotten 15.”
According to Locke, she has made efforts to address the interference of the cab drivers. She further revealed that the Immigration Department was working with the Central Information Technology Office (CITO), to make it possible for persons to book appointments online. This new service will complement, not stop opportunities, for in-line appointments, she said.
Today was Locke’s third appearance before the Senate Select Committee, and she is scheduled to testify again next Wednesday.