On Saturday, July 1, 2017, I had to visit the Cheddi Jagan International Airport at Timehri to pick up my wife who was returning from overseas at 15:00 hrs. When I was turning onto the airport road, I saw no signs. After parking, my son and I sat down in the arrival waiting section. There was no indication of the flight schedule on the screen. The fee collector at the parking lot had said nothing, and no staffer had said anything. After waiting for some time we observed that there was still no heavy activity around the time the aircraft was expected to arrive. Then a young lady working in the airport’s snackette came to me and said: “Don’t you know that the arrivals area has moved?” I was completely shocked.
Is the administration bereft of management techniques, procedures and systems? Couldn’t they think to put up a sign to show that the arrivals area was under construction? Should they not have put some arrows starting from the old arrivals section to the new one at the Laparkan bond area so that no one would be inconvenienced?
I met several persons and one said that they had waited three hours in the old waiting area until they realized something was wrong. People were very frustrated and when I eventually moved around, there was no visible sign advising persons how to find this new area or what the purpose of it was. I finally found the area at the back, and when I got there, I met confusion. I understand that when there is construction going on, especially at an international airport, there will always be some level of inconvenience. The confusion was so great when the rain came down they allowed people to enter the Customs’ shed area where arriving passengers are supposed to exit. As soon as the rain stopped, everyone was instructed to step out of this area into the hot sun.
Again, it is understood that the Customs’ area must be kept under high security and persons should not be in there unauthorized. But are the contractors/administrators so bereft of managerial skill that they inconvenience their customers? The customers are always the most important people and in this case, the passengers and the persons picking up those passengers are the customers of the airport. Therefore, basic amenities that are customer friendly should be established to give some basic comfort, even with ongoing construction. If someone was pregnant or had a diabetic problem, not being forewarned that the area was under construction and with the intensity of the sun, they could have started passing out.
I started to snap a few pictures and shared my view with the people around. It is unfortunate that persons were not blaming the airport’s management team but instead chose to call out President David Granger and the government, which was completely unfair. I think that the Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson and some of his management personnel should visit these locations and offer recommendations so that people are not treated like second class citizens. People were tired standing, like me who has a lower back issue, as there was no sitting area.
All they had to do was place two 20×20 tents in the new waiting area. This would not run the airport bankrupt and the money they are collecting fraudulently by having persons pay to park knowing that later they would have to park at the back, could have been used to place tents and chairs. The many Chinese and local contractors who are working on this site could have easily built some long old-fashioned benches with the understanding that these would be prioritized for persons who definitely needed this facility. It is beyond human comprehension that administrators cannot think of these petty things.
Additionally, when a lady wanted to use the washroom facility, she realized that not even that was provided. I presume that they did not think of installing two mobile washrooms or building a temporary septic tank with two stalls (just to purchase two toilet bowls and potable water) for male and female usage. This would have been so simple.
I wish the administrators of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) to note that this is something for action. The people of this country are the bosses of this country and governments, ministers, heads of government agencies/institutions/corporations must never forget that they are the people’s servants.
Roshan Khan Sr