Taxi fare hike for migrants in South

With just four days of reg­is­tra­tion left, thou­sands of Venezue­lans con­tin­ue to gath­er in droves out­side the Achie­vors Ban­quet Hall in San Fer­nan­do, while un­scrupu­lous taxi dri­vers cap­i­talised on their dis­tress.

Some Venezue­lan fam­i­lies say they have been wait­ing for days to get reg­is­tered but al­though num­bers reached as high as 4,200, on­ly 1,500 were cleared up to 2 pm. The sit­u­a­tion at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain was sim­i­lar where hun­dreds of mi­grants await­ed to be reg­is­tered.

They too want the Gov­ern­ment to con­sid­er ex­tend­ing the pe­ri­od of reg­is­tra­tion.

In To­ba­go, some Venezue­lans who could not get through jour­neyed to the is­land hop­ing for suc­cess.

Mar­lon Ramb­harose, who is mar­ried to Venezue­lan na­tion­al Mayra Nazez and has three chil­dren, called for an ex­ten­sion to the reg­is­tra­tion process.

“This is the third day we came and we still did not get through. My wife has a num­ber of 2,346. It is re­al­ly de­press­ing com­ing here day af­ter day. It would have made bet­ter sense to have a cen­tral cen­tre set up as well be­cause south seems to have the most num­ber of peo­ple,” Ramb­harose said, out­side the San Fer­nan­do cen­tre.

A se­nior im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cial said even though the staff was work­ing as quick­ly as pos­si­ble, tak­ing a min­i­mum of 15 min­utes to process an ap­pli­ca­tion, thou­sands of ap­pli­cants were still wait­ing.

In­stead of call­ing in batch­es of 50 as they did last week, on­ly 25 peo­ple were be­ing called in at a time.

This re­sult­ed in peo­ple spilling out from un­der the tents on­to the SS Erin Road.

Dis­cour­aged Venezue­lans sat on the side­walk out­side of VHN En­ter­pris­es, Enam In­dus­tri­al Sup­plies and out­side the NP Quick Shoppe. They looked ha­rassed and tired. Moth­ers with cry­ing chil­dren in their arms sat on the ground un­der the tents.

Venezue­lan na­tion­al Maria Carinezuz said she want­ed an ex­ten­sion of time.

“My fam­i­ly still not reg­is­tered. We have been camp­ing out here since Sat­ur­day. We hope to get through to­day,” she said.

Car­los Huaz said he paid $140 to come from Ch­agua­nas to Dun­can Vil­lage with his fam­i­ly.

“I have no more mon­ey to pay for the pas­sage back so we will wait here un­til we get through. We want to thank the peo­ple who have been bring­ing food for us,” he added.

The La Ro­maine Mi­grant Sup­port group has been drop­ping off food and drinks to the Venezue­lans since reg­is­tra­tion start­ed on May 31.

One of the founders of La Ro­maine Mi­grant Sup­port group (LAMS), Ang­ie Ram­nar­ine, who speaks flu­ent Span­ish, col­lect­ed un­used school box lunch­es from sur­round­ing schools in San Fer­nan­do and shared it with the mi­grants.

Ram­nar­ine said she was al­so dis­gust­ed by the taxi dri­vers who have been charg­ing high­er than usu­al fares to bring the Venezue­lans to the reg­is­tra­tion fa­cil­i­ty. Ram­nar­ine agreed that an ex­ten­sion was need­ed in San Fer­nan­do where num­bers have reached a record high since reg­is­tra­tion start­ed.

On Sun­day night, the Venezue­lans who camped out un­der the tents en­ter­tained them­selves with mu­sic and singing. LAMS brought some mat­tress­es for the chil­dren to help ease the night and they al­so dis­trib­uted food and wa­ter.

Reporter: Radhica De Silva


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