ABEC headquarters and Passport Office to operate until noon indefinitely; building said to be making the workers sick

There are conflicting reports about the cause of the early closure of the Passport and Citizenship Division – otherwise known as the Passport Office – and the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC), which are located in the same building on Queen Elizabeth Highway.

In a public notice, ABEC notes that, effective Wednesday, March 22, its headquarters and registration units will close at 12 p.m. daily until further notice.

While the Passport Office claims its early closure is to facilitate upgrades, sources tell REAL News that the building is causing those who work within it to fall sick.

It is not clear what the issue might be. However, sources tell our Newsroom that the Government does not have the funds to fix the plethora of issues affecting the workplace, including poor air quality, dirty carpeting, and mold on the furniture.

But, reportedly, an assessment of the building was performed by a qualified individual and certain recommendations have been made.

Although ABEC’s registration units are located throughout the constituencies, sources say they, too, are being closed early to avoid claims of discrimination.  They say it would be unfair for some members of staff to work for eight hours while others are on the job for only half of the day.

Therefore, the decision was taken to have a single cut-off time.

The Passport Office, in the meanwhile, also issued a notice that it will implement new hours of operation – from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, Monday to Friday, until further notice – effective March 22.

The Development Control Authority (DCA) recently relocated to Friars Hill Road on account of similar issues.

It was just on Monday, March 20, that Senate Minority Leader Shawn Nicholas pleaded with the Browne Administration to pay closer attention to the upkeep of government buildings, many of which are in a dilapidated condition and causing health concerns to workers.