Living in computer hell in Trinidad and Tobago



In this column, I recently wrote about the pointlessness of comparing Bajans and Trinis.

But the experience of our various new processes related to travel and tourism security needs to be shared. It shows that we don’t need to cling to outdated modus operandi that we seem incapable of throwing in the redundancy bin.

To enter TT, everyone needs a digital TTravel Pass, which can be printed or saved on a mobile electronic device. Without it, you cannot board a plane.

The shape is long, very long. It requires you to upload your negative PCR test, WHO international vaccination certificate and passport information page. In addition, it asks for all kinds of information that might be gathered at another time, such as what region you live in.

Once all of this data is processed, a barcode is uploaded, which must be presented at the airline check-in counter.

Without it, you’re in trouble, which happened to a friend when she tried to check in recently.

It took me a little over an hour the day before my trip back to Trinidad last month to complete the exercise, as the online interface is inadequate, the shape crooked, and the upload and download speeds. website too slow to keep up with demand.

Also, you need a big smartphone because of the design of the digital form.

Luckily I resorted to an iPad after failing to complete the process on my little smartphone and finally got my barcode.

Frustratingly, the staff at the CAL desk insisted on seeing the paper versions of all downloaded forms. To do what ? I asked, but they didn’t know why. It was as if they didn’t trust the barcode and the corresponding information on their screens.

My friend declares that she also filled out the form the day before she returned home. but, unfortunately, due to the slowness of the site, she had gone to bed before she received the barcode.

The next day, it took her 56 busy minutes at the airport to repeat the process, and just five minutes before the flight closed, the website spat out the precious barcode and she was able to check in.

CAL threatened that she would have to stay at her own expense and purchase a new ticket as well if the process was incomplete, even though she had all the paperwork.

In contrast, to enter Barbados, a much simpler equivalent form can be processed in about five minutes and appears to serve a dual purpose as a digital version of the standard double-sided printed entry form required by all countries in the country. Caricom, but which the Barbadians gave up, even though CAL still distributes the forms and TT not replenished still uses them. Barbados immigration officials chased away the old-fashioned document offered to arriving passengers as they drove nearly everyone to machines for automated processing.

That’s not to say that our public and private sectors can’t successfully handle digital technology, but the difference in efficiency is staggering.

It took me several months of repeated testing before I got an online appointment to renew my six-month expired driver’s license.

But at least the interface of the site of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport is user-friendly, simple and efficient. The NIB process for online payments a year ago, when I last ventured into it, would challenge any scholar.

The TSTT / bmobile online payment system is more than useless if you have to pay multiple accounts at the same time. After nearly two years of bad credit while other accounts went unpaid, I realized their system couldn’t handle more than one transaction at a time.

On the other hand, T & TEC offers a variety of fast automated payment methods, and WASA is very helpful when it comes to cashing my quarterly debits, even if there is no water. in the network, the water is the color of mud when there is mud, and the filter is full of brown slush.

The banking sector, which has very happy shareholders, is among the worst digital operators. There is a litany of failures, exacerbated by the pandemic – branch and credit card customer services are understaffed, interbank payments frequently go missing without explanation, inter-account payments (at least at my bank) now occur a day later, etc, etc. Our banks are pushing customers to online banking, but they are as ill-prepared as we are.

My bank – Republic – recently introduced the worst of all new online banking systems, and like the TT Travel Pass, it requires too much information. Now to establish a new payee you have to have the person’s credentials, which a lot of people refuse to give, so we have to go back to checks. Progress!

Why do we like cumbersome and counterproductive data collection? Digitization and automation are supposed to be good, but we haven’t caught up with the rest of the world to understand their real purpose or master them.

While we don’t, Trinis endures computer hell.

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