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UPDATE: Customs Officer falls ill hours after reporting for duty on Anegada

- Working environment said to be unwholesome for human habitation
The state of the working space of both the Customs and Immigration Officers deemed not fit even for animal dwelling. Photo: Provided
The state of the working space of both the Customs and Immigration Officers deemed not fit even for animal dwelling. Photo: Provided
The state of the working space of both the Customs and Immigration Officers deemed not fit even for animal dwelling. Photo: Provided
The state of the working space of both the Customs and Immigration Officers deemed not fit even for animal dwelling. Photo: Provided
The state of the working space of both the Customs and Immigration Officers deemed not fit even for animal dwelling. Photo: Provided
The state of the working space of both the Customs and Immigration Officers deemed not fit even for animal dwelling. Photo: Provided
The state of the working space of both the Customs and Immigration Officers deemed not fit even for animal dwelling. Photo: Provided
The Auguste George Airport is being referred to not as an International Airport but rather a free port because of the failure of the Customs Officer to show up for duty for years. Photo: VINO
The Auguste George Airport is being referred to not as an International Airport but rather a free port because of the failure of the Customs Officer to show up for duty for years. Photo: VINO
Commissioner of Customs Mr Wade Smith said that the matter was brought to his attention and some two weeks ago he had cause to pen a letter to the errant officer. Photo: VINO
Commissioner of Customs Mr Wade Smith said that the matter was brought to his attention and some two weeks ago he had cause to pen a letter to the errant officer. Photo: VINO
A reporter of the Virgin Islands News Online personally witnessed the arrival of a flight at the Auguste George International Airport and none of the passengers were checked by a customs nor an Immigrations Officer. Photo: VINO
A reporter of the Virgin Islands News Online personally witnessed the arrival of a flight at the Auguste George International Airport and none of the passengers were checked by a customs nor an Immigrations Officer. Photo: VINO
SETTLEMENT, Anegada, VI – While this news site was apprised of the security risk that has been created at the Auguste George International Airport in Anegada because of the prolonged absence of the Customs Officer Mr Alred Smith a source close to the officer has stood in his defense highlighting a number of issues that are not unique to the international airport.

Informed and reliable sources told Virgin Islands News Online that Mr Smith turned up for duty yesterday February 12, 2014, fully dressed in uniform. However according to the source the day did not end well for the officer. “There are many sides to this whole story,” said our source.

After being on the job for some hours yesterday Mr Smith allegedly had to seek medical attention at the local Anegada Clinic to the extent that he had to be put on a nebulizer. Several efforts were made to speak with Mr Smith directly but these were futile.

The state of the airport building was highlighted as the core of the problems being faced by not only Mr Smith but others. “[Regarding the condition] at the airport, this has been going on for years, there are bats, birds…there is no air-conditioning in the building where the two officers work, there is no suitable furniture, there is no fan there is nothing. You going in there it is dusty,” according to the source.

It has been opined that there seems to be a problem of mold that is affecting the age old building. Compounding this is the allegation that the officers are the ones required to do housekeeping if they are to work in a clean environment. “Nobody cleans the offices. if they do a little bit of dusting now and then it’s for their benefit,” said the source.

The source said that several photos of the state of the office and airport were sent to the relevant authorities as well with no noticeable actions taken. They alleged that the BVIAA had sectioned off the area where their officer operates and made it worker friendly installing air conditioning among other things, while immigration and Customs Officers were left in the unfriendly environment.

Contacted about the state of the Auguste George International Airport at Anegada Commissioner of Customs Mr Wade Smith told Virgin Islands News Online that such questions should be directed to the BVI Airport Authority (BVIAA). Several calls to BVIAA Managing Director Mr Denniston Fraser went unanswered. No other senior officer could be reached either.

At the time of learning that the Customs Officer had fallen ill attempts by this news site to confirm whether this was brought to the attention of Mr Wade Smith proved futile. Consequent of this new development persons are now questioning what forward actions would be taken to fix the possible security risks at the airport.

See previous story posted February 12, 2014:

Auguste George Airport – An International Airport or free port?

- Residents of Anegada have no doubt that illegal items enter the VI via Auguste George International Airport

WEST END, Anegada, VI – As the apparent increase of illegal drugs, arms, ammunition among other things becomes more glaring in the Virgin Islands, residents of Anegada are convinced that most are being smuggled into the territory via the Auguste George International Airport.

Their opinions were justified as was proven by this news site. The assigned Customs Officer to the international airport has been allegedly absenting himself from duties. “This is something that has been going on for a number of years and the authorities are well aware of it but nothing is being done to have it corrected,” said a concerned resident.

One resident who is said to be a community leader said that in his opinion the airport has lost its status as an international airport and has been and continues to be a “Free Port”. “It’s a security risk because the entire islands know about the situation. People from even Virgin Gorda, Tortola, and St Thomas, all over know and I know that the situation has been and continues to be taken advantage of,” alleged another resident.

When the problem was brought to the attention to this news site while covering the Farmers’ Week celebrations on Monday February 10, 2014, our reporter made the conscience decision to make a quick visit to the airport.

As the lucky stars would have it, an international flight had just arrived and it was observed that none of the passengers were checked. They walked freely through the airport and into the Island. The pilot was observed giving a document to an officer who was later identified as an officer of the BVI Airport Authority.

Three firemen were on duty and there was also no Immigration Officer at the airport. This news site was guided by a source to the Immigration Officer who was away from the airport. When found the Immigration Officer said that he was off duty on the day in question.

While guiding this news site to the offices of the Chief Immigration Officer (ag) Mr Guy Hill and Commissioner of Customs Mr Wade Smith for any further information, a source said it has been a very extended period that the Customs Officer has been a no-show for his duties.

A source close to the BVI Airport Authority (BVIAA) said that with such breaches in the operations at the airport, technically it has lost its status as an international airport. “That is definitely a breach in the regulations and technically and in reality the Auguste George 'International' Airport has lost its international status,” said the BVIAA source.

The source also explained that one of the most unique systems exists at the airport in question, to the fact that there is only one Customs Officer and one Immigration Officer on the Island of Anegada. “So what happens is when one is off duty the other has to perform the duties of both though technically that is very wrong but it’s the system that is over there.”

It was further explained that the Immigration Officer has been feeling the major strain because he is never assisted as it has been several years that the Customs Officer has not been showing up for duty. “And mind you, he has been collecting a full salary every month,” alleged our informed source.

Contacted yesterday the Commissioner of Customs VI, Mr Wade Smith said that the matter was brought to his attention prior and some two weeks ago he had cause to pen a letter to the officer in question. He said that he was not aware that the officer was still defaulting. “I am not going to tolerate that, I wrote him about two weeks ago addressing this issue and I am not prepared to let this continue,” said Mr Smith.

37 Responses to “UPDATE: Customs Officer falls ill hours after reporting for duty on Anegada”

  • civil servant (12/02/2014, 09:15) Like (4) Dislike (5) Reply
    With the civil servants moral so low who wants to go to work?
  • please (12/02/2014, 11:07) Like (11) Dislike (4) Reply
    Have anyone bothered to check the condition of the Airport that the officers are asked to work in? it is not fit for animals to play. The immigration officer is hardly there himself so dont be fooled by these statements. The officers (Custom and Immigration) should not be asked to work under those conditions. Vino I am very dissapointed in your article you are caught up in an attempt to defame an honest hardworking individual. You are yet to find out the nature of Small Island people with small minds. You did not try to get your facts straight. Since you are on the subject go back to the Small Island and check out the condition of the Government buildings and then let the public know if this is any condition for persons to work under. Let them pay the people a decent salary so that they can survive.
    • pat (12/02/2014, 12:00) Like (6) Dislike (3) Reply
      so that is an excuse not to do the much needed job? If the bathroom at the gas station is dirty, you are allowed not to show up at work to pump gas? No. You bring it to someone's attention. Especially when international relations and laws are concerned. It is not a small mind but a concern for community and national safety that this reporter has shed light on this problem. Let Gov use some of the budget to fix what is existing and not add to the problem by expanding when they can't handle it.
      • No excuse (12/02/2014, 20:52) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
        @ Pat if u don't know the issues don't blog. We are not talking about bathroom, we are talking about the deplorable conditions in which people have to work while the bosses sit in their clean air condition offices. Shame. People could only take so much.
    • Lies (18/02/2015, 16:43) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      shut up they get paid better then the states!
  • son of the soil (12/02/2014, 11:10) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
    The B.V.I is a free for all.
  • Peng!! (12/02/2014, 11:11) Like (10) Dislike (6) Reply
    shut ur trap.....he gets paid...if his moral low leave!!!!! these are tough time for everyone and everyone is thankful we still have a job to put food on our table....there are a lot of people out there who really want to work..... after all government offers us a free pension, medical insurance, and other privileges
  • MYOB (12/02/2014, 11:12) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is a threat to national security.
  • Go on (12/02/2014, 12:52) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    More dem low morals I see.
  • Proud Anegadaian (12/02/2014, 13:44) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    All you all here on talking a lot of crap. On Tortola where the Complex is making individuals sick everyday they are find places for them to work from and they cannot find a place they are sent home by a medical physician. Just recently on Anegada the Deputy Governor's Office moved the police officer from the apartments at the Complex because it was unfit for them to live in. Why should the building on Anegada be any different? You all are idiots. Airport Authority sectioned off an area at the Airport on Anegada and put air condition in it for their staff so they are ok. You all are just looking at one officer on Anegada who has complained on numerious occasions about the working conditions at the airport and even present photos but nothing was done. You all are trying to destroy an individual because of his name but remember before you try to clean my house clean your own also you just opened a very large of worms and as they say mouth open story jump out. Everything now is going to come to light about all those officer working on Anegada.
    • excuse me but... (12/02/2014, 15:21) Like (4) Dislike (11) Reply
      If teachers and students must go to school with sightings ( and the scent) of mould and other undesirable issues why should customs and immigration have an excuse to ignore their duties? No excuses!!!!!!!
      • stand up for your rights (12/02/2014, 19:54) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
        Because you cannot always lie down and play possum. Somebody have to put down their foot at some point or things will never change.
  • TRUTH TELLER (12/02/2014, 13:52) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    The immigration officer is a no show most of the time too, up and down in his taxi
  • born in the b.v.i. (12/02/2014, 14:43) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    if vino cant get a simple news right at a live agricultural fair whos to say the capt. auguste george news is correct. at the agricultural fair it was the anegada methodist church steel bands performance that was not on the programme.for mr. wade smith the 6th-10th does not add up to two weeks
  • Auguiste George (12/02/2014, 15:02) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is my real name. And I've been wondering who was this Auguste George from Anegada... I jokingly tell folks I have an airport named after me. Never thought there was someone else with that name. Does anyone know what was he famous for that he had an airport named after him?
  • egg face (12/02/2014, 17:58) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    There is more in the mota
  • in the news (12/02/2014, 20:09) Like (0) Dislike (3) Reply
    Look how ndp has kill the service
  • We say (12/02/2014, 21:05) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yeah, they are ready for their next big drug shipment so they are ready to get rid of the one officer they cannot bribe. Go ahead with the plan and then you will see the Freeport. Once a person have integrity and will not get involve in corruption we attack. Some of the same B<|@@ officers are the ones running the drugs and guns through the Freeport as you call it. I will see it play out and we will see who will have the last laugh. Be strong Officer this too shall pass.
  • Eyes and Ears (12/02/2014, 21:21) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    W@?€ S3!+# and cronies sitting in their air conditioned office and collecting huge salaries while their officers are being endangered in the front lines everyday. This is the same person who cut his vacation short in December to go back to work to make sure that they could get some added revenue. The same hardworking Immigration Officer who you say have been carrying the strain for the last three years took vacation although he knows the other officer was on vacation and was living it up in Santo Domingo as he has been doing for the last 3 years. This is the busiest period for that department so who you think was carrying the strain? Surely not the Immigration Officer. Overworked and underpaid the guy have been carrying out duties of both offices for one pay. Let the truth be told.
  • ball head (13/02/2014, 07:41) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
    People should be free to dispense their rage and hatred and vitriol about the state of the service under this govenment
  • True (13/02/2014, 08:17) Like (5) Dislike (3) Reply
    Right is right and wrong is wrong, there are ways to protest, but to just stay away from work like that without a doctor paper and expect to get pay is ridiculous, do these guys know the importance of their jobs?. Antigua and Barbuda, Barbuda is identical to anegada but a bit more developed, the condition of the airport their is nothing compare to what is in anegada, its really shameful to have people working in those condition, but then again we are not babies, i think those officers should come out and work, i hope the authority looks deep into the time that they stay away from duty and deduct those monies from their salary, you cant stay home and expect to get pay, cant work.
    • @True (13/02/2014, 22:13) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Shut u trap. They are getting pittance not pay. It can't even pay their medical bills. I guess you want to get him out so u can continue ur illegal activity. Stfu.
    • Do Right (13/02/2014, 23:44) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Yes, right is right and wrong is wrong. It is not right for the Officers to stay away from work, just as it is not right how their working conditions have been neglected for years. Some people get to squander the Government funds and others have to suffer and pay for the situation, whether by their health or otherwise. Yes, there are ways to protest, but that would only be another excuse for disciplinary action against those protesting. Avoid the need for protests and do right by people. After all it is one Territory, is it not?
  • fix it right away (13/02/2014, 09:26) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    fix the problem right away,is not the officer,is the site and more security action ,well sa guard and dogs.
  • ... (13/02/2014, 09:48) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Anegada has an "International Airport"....? LOL. News to me.
  • . (13/02/2014, 10:16) Like (1) Dislike (3) Reply
    NDP has the place in a delapidated state.
  • Ha! (13/02/2014, 11:43) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    The Government should be ashamed of this however, this didn't start yesterday or 2yrs ago. This was decades of neglect. Why weren't these types of stories done previously? Oh, I know.. and you do too! Regardless, they should get these situations sorted out, it's really embarrassing for a place that talks so much about Tourism and being the 'best' at things. SeriouslY?
  • deh mon (13/02/2014, 15:00) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    I live on Anegada, I can count the amount of times customs and other cival servants show up for work on my hand!
  • change (13/02/2014, 17:11) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    We build things but we have failed to maintain them, that is our biggest problem here.
    • Step up (14/02/2014, 10:22) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      @change That is true. My point too why not fix the doors ans send in a receipt to be reimbursed. Simple you seen the problem and ignored them. To me he can't make decisions on his own?....
  • is he ill? (13/02/2014, 18:56) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    This is the BVI...people tell me , crocodile tears ever stop your mother from giving you a whopping ? Or she tell you you she gonna give you something to cry bout ?
  • polo (14/02/2014, 01:24) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    We have squandered so much over the years trying to impose our values on another people
  • lmao (18/02/2015, 17:11) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    National security threat. Please. Now that's funny. We should ask the US to send some troops over to protect the one room airport. Omg only one plane comes a day.


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