After six months of waiting, I started to enquire the reason for the long delay. I made numerous telephone calls to the Registrar General’s Office. I was given several numbers which I called and eventually someone told me that my name “is not yet scanned and it is not on the system”. Here it is that I am about to die but according to the Registrar General’s Office, I am not yet born. As the months rolled along, I continued enquiring but to no avail. I was eventually advised to visit the Office in Port-of-Spain to “straighten” matters.
So very early, 3.30 am to be exact, on Thursday February 13, I started my journey to Port-of- Spain. After spending hours in bumper to bumper traffic, I arrived at the designated office at 6.30 am where I joined a line about ? mile long. I entered the building at 8 am and got a number 411. All applicants for birth certificates were herded into a tent in the back of the building. As about 200 of us sat in the sweltering heat, a security guard would occasionally call out a few numbers. I was finally called about 12.30 pm and made to sit in the “green room”.
At 1.30 pm I was called by a “verifier” who calmly told me that I have to pay $25 for my “free” birth certificate since one was already prepared and was handed to TTPost.
After waiting for over a year, this sounded like a fairy tale. Tired, hungry and exhausted, I paid for this document hoping to get it the same day. But lo and behold, I was told I would have to return the next day to collect it. No one listened to my pleadings. I felt as though I was talking to mindless robots who enjoyed seeing me suffer. I eventually left that place dejected and disenchanted for my return journey home. The following day I returned at 9 am and after a wait of 2? hours got my treasured “free” birth certificate for which I paid $25. But now for icing on the cake. On March 17, three days after my trips to Port-of-Spain, TTPost finally delivered my truly free birth certificate, the one which I had applied for more than a year ago. So now I have two birth certificates. It may appear that TTPost caused this delay but on examining the receipt attached to the document, I realised the delay was caused by the ever “efficient robotic” staff of the Registrar General’s Office.
Some may wonder why I am upset by this experience. Well let me explain. To begin with, I live in Point Fortin which is nowhere close to Port-of-Spain. Also, I am a senior citizen aged 73 with some medical conditions and also with very limited financial resources.
Over the two days, I had to spend a total of $112.00 in transport and a further $6 to use toilet facilities in Port-of-Spain. Then I paid for the Birth Certificate making a total of $143.00 overall. I had to remain hungry on both days because I simply did not have the money to buy a doubles, the cheapest of which was $3.00.
I wish to congratulate our administrators of this land of my birth for the very efficient and humane manner in which they treat the citizens, especially the elderly. Soon, I will once again have to go through a similar exercise as I have to obtain a machine readable passport. May heaven help me.