Saturday, May 29, 2010

LOOK OUT!

LOOK OUT!
One glance at the facilities at Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office on Infantry Road and the women are ready to raise a stink ...
DEEPTHI M R & HEMANTH KASHYAP


The folks at Mercers Worldwide Quality of Living Survey obviously didn’t visit the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO). Had they, it’s unlikely they would have voted Bangalore the best Indian city for expats. Situated in the police commissioner’s office compound on Infantry Road, FRRO has no toilets, no drinking water facilities or even decent seating arrangements. Over 250 to 300 foreign nationals visit FRRO every day for registration and other formalities.
On Friday Lilan Beta, a student from Uganda, was in the queue from 9 am. By noon she was only half way through. “I looked for the toilet to freshen up. But I couldn’t find it. After looking around, I saw an alley where there were two doors. One toilet for men and the other for women. The irony is that they were locked and I am glad they were locked as the stench was too much. I wonder how the sight would be if it was open.”
Lack of a proper loo is not the only problem at FRRO. It doesn’t have a reception counter either.
Foreign nationals have to queue up for hours just to get a token when the counter opens at 9.15 am. Some start queing up at dawn. There are simply no charts explaining how to renew a visa, convert a visa etc. They must ask their way around or take tips from those who have experienced the agony.
Me Charlotte Noa, a 46-yearold from Cameroon, was in the queue at FRRO on Friday. A lawyer by profession she was appalled by the fact that she had to sit on the pavement for four hours before her number for registration came up. “I thought this happens only in Africa. I came here at 8.30 am and it’s already 12.30 pm now. I have been coming here daily for three days and it is frustrating,” she said.
JUST NOT RIGHT!
Even though there are a few seats at the office, it is not enough for the number of people who come here daily. Frank, a teacher from Canada, was livid. “I am busy with my PSP. This is my second visit to get a token and I haven’t got it yet. We all have jobs to do. This is a sheer waste of time and I don’t see a point in this formality,” he fumed.
Axel Brou, a student from Ivory Coast, concurred. “We have decent jobs in our country, we pay money to come and see this country and they treat us like beggars here. We have to sit on the pavement and wait for long hours. This is just not right,” she said.
Inside the office, a four-member panel looks at the forms and guides the applicant to the right counter. There are five counters which are designated for various purposes like registration of foreign nationals, extension of stay, renewal of passport and reissue of passport.
READY FOR IT
Gerda and her two kids from The Netherlands are in the queue. But they know waht to expect. “We have done this last year too when we came here. We knew how to deal with this,” Gerda explained. “We just walk across the street and use the toilet in the hotel opposite the office and come back. We leave behind one person here just in case our token number is called out,” she added.
NOT OUR JOB
The cops wash off their hands from the whole mess. “We have given this place to the Government of India. We have nothing to do with the way they function. The FRRO must give the foreigners proper facilities,” said Nisar Ahmed, Additional Commissioner of Police (Administration).

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