$10 million to enhance security at Jamaica airports

[Kingston, Jamaica] – The Jamaican government has spent some $10 million to enhance security measures at the island’s two international Airports.

Speaking with JIS News, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of National Security, Gilbert Scott said the changes would take effect on December 12, as most of the improvements would be in place. He cautioned though that some of the technologies to be introduced would be installed at a later date.

In order to improve the level of efficiency at the airports during the year, a total of 60 Immigration Officers were recruited for both airports and come Monday (December12) another 34 officers will be added. Of that number 28 will be dispatched to the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston while the remainder will be sent to the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James.

To tackle the increased visitor arrival at the Sangster International Airport, the Ministry “will install six new incoming and two outgoing stations so that our service points will also be increased,” he informed.

Using last month’s tourist arrival data for Montego Bay as a benchmark, Mr. Scott explained that, “between the hours of 11am and 3pm, we handled close to 29 aircrafts and for the period up to 6pm there were 41 aircrafts coming in [carrying] between six to eight thousand people in a window of some six to seven hours.”

Mr. Scott says he is committed to having all stations in operation outfitted with Immigration Officers. In addition to the Immigration Officers, “we will have roving Immigration Assistants who would be moving through the crowds assisting people in completing their forms, providing information and just directing the traffic.” These new initiatives will ensure smooth processing of documents hence minimizing the time spent at the airports.

Another area to be looked at is the improvement in the technology of the data entry points. The Permanent Secretary acknowledged that in recent times and based on their assessments the effectiveness of the machines can be questioned, and plans are to be put in place to address this.

“We are seeking to improve the software to reduce the processing time so that we can then handle transactions more speedily,” he said. The Ministry will also install 12 mobile units, which will allow officers to move around the airport and do some amount of processing.

Mr. Scott further reiterated that the Ministry is devoted to ensuring speedy passenger movement as well as making sure that appropriate security measures are in place to prevent exploitation.

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