|Friday, 5 September 2003|
Immigration and Emigration Controller Mervyn Wijesekera on Interior and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga's directive has appointed a special monitoring unit to keep tab on the work of officials manning the Immigration and Emigration counters at the Bandarananike International Airport (BIA), Katunayake.
This follows several complaints by travellers that they had found the counters unmanned at times when flights arrive or depart resulting in passengers having to wait for long hours to get clearance at Immigration and Emigration counters. As a result, there had been instances when long queues were seen at immigration counters.
This was also highlighted this week at the monthly conference on illicit trafficking of persons held with senior officials of foreign missions in Sri Lanka. It was chaired by Interior Ministry Secretary M.N. Junaid and the matter raised by Embassy and airline officials.
Junaid told the Controller to take stern action against officials who would be found wanting. He said though efficiency has improved at these counters, due to action of a few, the services had suffered at the most wanted time.
With the influx of tourists during the tourist season it is essential that officials work at peak efficiency, Junaid said.
Work is hampered when officials inform at the last moment that they are on leave. At other times, the excuse is that the officer has gone to the toilet, Junaid said.
The Controller said following complaints, he has appointed a Monitoring Unit comprising two Assistant Controller's to monitor the work of each official. Apart from physical checks, this unit will be assisted by computers linked to Department's head office in Colombo, where the number of passengers cleared by each official on duty will be indicated.
The Department recently introduced a series of changes to improve efficiency and prevent malpractices. Among them is the ban on use of mobile phones by authorised officers inside the airport while on duty.
Produced by Lake House