Home Affairs Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte has disclosed that retrofitting work at a new location for the Immigration Department is ongoing, and the move should occur ‘in a few weeks.’
There has yet to be any public disclosure regarding where the new location is, but the Minister told reporters it is in central Castries.
“That’s just a few months – a few weeks,” Albert-Poyotte responded regarding the relocation time frame.
“The retrofitting work – they are working basically in the night because there are tenants occupying the building so you find that they cannot make too much noise to disturb the existing tenants,” the Babonneau MP stated.
She disclosed that she had seen some photos and declared that the new location would be a better environment.
“The passport office has been a long, drawn-out issue for almost about a year, and from the time we introduced the e-passports, it takes a little longer for them to process the passports. That’s what our Immigration Officers informed us,” the Home Affairs Minister explained.
In addition, Albert-Poyotte noted that the current Immigration Department office presents some health issues, that necessitated deep cleaning and air quality tests.
“Government has spent quite a bit of money on this building,” the Minister told reporters.
Regarding the new location, she said the authorities were putting pressure on the landlord to expedite getting the Immigration Officers into the new environment.
On Thursday, the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) announced the temporary closure of the Immigration Department from the following day for deep cleaning in response to occupational health and safety concerns.
It will re-open on Tuesday, May 30.
The Home Affairs Minister said the government was putting all measures in place to demonstrate that it cares about the welfare of the Immigration Department workers while continuing to serve the public.
“People really need their passports to travel and we would not want to deny the public of the services that they need,” Albert-Poyotte explained.