Posted by: nastylittletruths | September 11, 2008

Numbers Don’t Lie…

I saw a letter to the Editor earlier this week (Express?) from a K. Maharaj so I had to go through previous newspapers to find the article he/she referred to. The letter writer was talking about the inability of the Immigration Department, and by extension, the Government, in meeting the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) deadline for the implementation of new travel documents (machine readable passports) by April 10, 2010 and I was amazed that no reporter took this story further.

Straight from the horse’s mouth – and like Barack Obama, I am not calling Minister in the Ministry of National Security Donna Cox a horse – we heard that there are about 425,000 nationals of TnT still holding the non-MR passports yet they are processing only 1,400 a week. Assuming that they constantly churn out this number, it will take 303.6 weeks (70 months) for everyone to get their passports and we only have 20 months left to April 2010. And to make matters worse, the new passports are only valid for 60 months – 5 years. So before everyone can get the new passport, who got at the beginning are ready to renew!

Only in Trinidad… I’ve said it and posted it many times, a true dictatorship always have as a hallmark the restriction of their citizen’s rights to freedom of movement. I have to console myself at times that it may not be so much malice as it is stupidity (Hanlon’s Razor).  Sir Bernard Ingham (Margaret Thatcher’s Press Secretary from 1979-1990) had said it best – “Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government. I assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory”. Consolation indeed that they cocked-up (you say what I can’t write) and we wallow in our own incompetence…

But while we are desperately (?) trying to meet a deadline, word is out that machine readable passports can be hacked into and data stolen via radio frequency – they don’t need to physically steal it. Duplicating that data onto a chip and forging a hard copy passport therefore will not be too far behind. Terrorists are tech savvy and probably issuing passports faster than Trinidad immigration.


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