BANGKOK- Despite having since July new immigration and security channels, passengers’ queues at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport does not seem to diminish. Just in contrary, it takes even more time to clear now immigration. An impression which is confirmed by Pol Maj Gen Natthorn Prosunthorn, Commander of the Immigration Police Division of Suvarnabhumi airport, who explained in an interview to the Bangkok Post how work conditions are worsening for officers due to work overload.
In the interview, the policeman said that his team is busy not just checking passenger visas, but also protecting national security. “Immigration police must capture suspects who have outstanding arrest warrants issued by police stations nationwide,” he said.
Arrests of undesirable visitors and the reception of officials, occurring on a daily basis, are another factor of slowing down immigration procedures for normal passengers as it takes away immigration staff.
But the most critical task is to secure the border according to the newspaper. “Not everyone with a visa can enter the country. They will be sent back if they pose a threat,” the commander said. “Plain-clothes police officers are also deployed to search for suspects,” he added. Last year, 15,752,195 inbound passengers and 14,807,532 outbound travellers passed through Suvarnabhumi airport’s immigration counters.
Pol Maj Gen Natthorn acknowledged that his department lacks human resources. The recent installation of electronic machines to read and scan passports is only currently valid for Thai citizens and helped little to relieve pressure. Despite some officials indicating that these machines will also be able to read foreign passports, it might take a while until the facility becomes available for foreign travellers. “It is impossible to hire more officials to match the ever growing number of passengers. So, the best way is to use machines which will boost work efficiency,” explained the police officer.
There is also a need to have more officers speaking foreign languages to speed up procedures at the immigration. Pol Maj Gen Natthorn proposed that Thai nationals with good skills in foreign languages should also be hired as police officers on contract, he suggested. Candidates would undergo immigration training for four months before working.
On average, each official checks around 5,000-6,000 visas per month. As an incentive, an immigration officer who can deliver a record number of visa checks will be awarded with an overseas package tour. The highest record so far is 27,000 visa checks per month.