Stranded in Guyana: We want to come home too | Local News

THIRTY Trinidad and Tobago nationals currently in Guyana are now calling on Government to respond to their requests to be allowed home.

In a letter to the media yesterday, group representative, Lester Paul, said the group has looked on at other nationals who were abroad being allowed into T&T, while the borders remain officially shut, asking, “Is it because we are not hiring lawyers to sabre rattle and making wild accusations in the media that we are being ignored?”

Paul said T&T’s Ministry of National Security “is aware that we are here” but there has been only “silence” since the group’s members applied for exemptions to return, since April 27.

“No one seems to know that there are workers in Guyana that want to come home too,” Paul stated. “No mention of workers in Guyana.”

National Security Minister Stuart Young however said yesterday that he has not seen any applications for this group. Exemptions may be granted only by the Minister of National Security, in this case Young, who has stated in past weeks that the borders remain closed to nationals and non-nationals and applications will be dealt with “case by case”.

T&T’s borders were shut to all on March 22, as Government ramped up its response to the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Paul said on April 27, members of the group received as part of their frequent communications from the High Commission in Guyana, the format to apply for an exemption to be allowed to return home.

Paul said exemption applications were “hurriedly filled out and e-mailed to the appropriate addresses” but there has been no response.

“Sixty-nine days out of your home, 45 days in self-quarantine,” Paul stated.

Paul, who said the letter was written to raise awareness of the T&T nationals “stranded” in Guyana, also noted that the decision by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to close the borders was probably a “difficult” one to take. However, the action has “paid dividends in controlling the number of cases which have presented to the Trinidad and Tobago healthcare system,” he said, adding “this was the intent and it has worked”.

He said March 22 saw the last flight out of Guyana to Trinidad and “those of us that are here obviously were not able to get on that flight for one reason of the other.

“Those that I know personally are all oilfield workers and are accustomed to spending some time away from home,” Paul said, adding, “Another two weeks on top of what we have already put in, though hard, is something that can be done, especially in the light of the pandemic.”

At the time, it was “no big thing,” he said.

It was during this time that the group, possibly all 30, registered with the T&T High Commission in Georgetown so that “on the first opportunity to return to Trinidad, we would be accommodated”.

“We looked on with great interest as the group stranded in Barbados went through their contentious battle with the Minister of National Security, finally succeeding after much publicity and lawyer interventions on their behalf,” Paul said.

Paul went on to note that on April 25, 70 nationals in Suriname were also told that they would be allowed to return if they could arrange their way home. He noted that the decision to allow those persons home had been disclosed by the Prime Minister.

Paul noted that some of those individuals had been unceremoniously ejected from their accommodations and were “in a bit of a situation”.

“By Friday 29th April, 69 persons were on a plane to Trinidad and on their way into quarantine,” stated Paul.

The National Security Minister said yesterday, however, “As at this time, I have not seen an application for 30 nationals in Guyana.”

Young said “we continue to manage all applications on a case-by-case basis”.

The minister, responding via WhatsApp, further stated: “We have received applications from companies claiming to represent nationals of Trinidad and Tobago who were working in Guyana and I have written to them seeking some clarification as the applications are being considered.”

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