by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
Grenadian citizens or returning nationals arriving at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) have noticed some major upgrades undertaken by immigration department with a view to improving border security. At the arrival gate, passengers are interfacing with a newly installed automated passport control system.
The new system installed on 29 November 2017 forms part of upgrades under the MBIA’s border management system. It facilitates self check-in on arrival of Grenadian passports only, and the passport holder must be age 14 or older. The new automated passport system puts Grenada on par with Jamaica, which has implemented self check-in on arrival.
In a recent interview with the Government Information Service (GIS), Chief Passport Officer Esau Pierre said great interest has been shown by the public using the automated system, and the system and the repositioning of the border control booths, add to the aesthetic of the arrival hall.
He said that placing the booths at a 90° angle between the customs and arrival hall; the replacement of the immigration officers at the departure desk; allowing departing passengers to check in with the airline, then engage with security and immigration officers before going into the screening area, was all part of “ensuring that Grenada is compliant and has the best security apparatus in place.” Additionally, the departure desk was revamped by adding another security booth in keeping with international standards.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Grenada Airports Authority, Wendy Francette–Williams lauded the immigration department for installing the new system in short order, and said more upgrades at MBIA are shortly expected. “The Airport Authority’s next move is to remodel the customs arrival hall and the implementation of baggage screening with machines by June this year…”
Francette–Williams also spoke of the planned expansion and development works hinting to the construction of a taxiway, “Which I will inform the public once we have proper conceptual drawings and designs. We have conceptual [drawings], but we want to go a little further before we face the public with our plans, but I can assure you that we will have runway rehabilitation works and parallel taxiway with 2 taxiway bridges. A parallel taxiway is a for the holding of aircraft for departure and also the holding of aircraft to park, therefore if an aircraft is coming onto the runway to land and another aircraft is ready to take off, that is a holding area for that aircraft before takeoff.”
The taxiway was first announced by Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell during his budget presentation.
The CEO also said 2 taxiway bridges will be constructed. “We have intentions of building 2 taxiway bridges, one into a second apron and the other into our main apron system which we have intentions of expanding, so we can have at least 3 loading bridges attached to our new terminal expansion.”
A member of NOW Grenada’s team recently experienced the expedited arrival afforded by the automated passport system, and said the 1–2–3 procedure of placing the passport on the reader to be scanned, waiting for a photo to be taken followed by a printed receipt, and then proceeding to the next available immigration officer for a quick exit, was painless and efficient. The team member equated the ease of use to using an ATM.