(QCOSTARICA) By Wilberth Villalobos, Vozdeguanacaste.com – The task of quickly and efficiently taking care of passengers entering the country through the Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) in Liberia has become quite an ordeal for customs service officials and for the hundreds of passengers who arrive on Saturdays.
The reason is that only four customs service officials have to take care of almost 480 passengers who arrive one after another between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., causing travelers to have to wait about an hour and a half in line to be processed.
This was reported by Francisco Cordero, general manager of the airport, who indicated that customs handles the simultaneous arrival of four flights during that time slot, with approximately 120 passengers each.
One of the people affected was Andrew Berlin, who came to the country on May 2nd. His flight came from New York and landed at the Liberia airport at about 12:45 p.m. Since his arrival, he and the other passengers on the plane had to wait about 20 minutes inside the plane apparently because the arrival gate was being used by another flight that had arrived at the same time.
Once in the customs line, Berlin and his family saw how the rest of the passengers had to wait an hour and a half for their turn with one of the two immigration officials who were working at the time.
“We arrived on a Saturday and there were about 350 people in line for two customs officers,” Berlin said.
They did not have to wait since they were traveling with their 18-month-old son and were allowed fast access.
In addition, Berlin complained that when he went to the baggage claim area, his luggage was amidst “a sad sea of bags” waiting to be picked up by their owners.
“I don’t like the feeling of knowing my stuff is already out there, and I am stuck somewhere else,” he affirmed.
Andrea Quesada, immigration spokesperson, explained that during the weekend of May 1st and approximately until Tuesday, the 12th, they had problems with the system that sends the database of passengers to immigration in order to review taxes and impediments both for entering and exiting the country.
“Due to this, the corresponding immigration control had to be done manually, so the four associates who work shifts at Daniel Oduber had to register each one of the passengers without using the system, with sufficient care, efficiency and expertise for this procedure,” said Quesada.
Meanwhile, Francisco Cordero commented that they have noticed a shortage in the number of officials taking care of customs services and he thinks that 10 officials are needed to expedite service.
“The immigration officials are quite efficient. On average, they take less than five minutes to serve each person. We want immigration to have a sufficient number of immigration officers,” said Cordero.
Additionally, Cordero said they will have a meeting on Friday, May 15th, with immigration authorities to find a solution to this problem.