Colombo (LNW): Suffering times continue in Sri Lanka, masses are going through immense suffering due to the current situation in the Island. As a result of this some have decided to migrate for greener pastures but for them there are many unnecessary grueling hurdles they have to cross before achieving their dreams. Starting from the Passport office to either to obtain a new passport or to renew the old one. People are spending days & nights at the passport office queues. After a struggle they will get their passport and thereafter another massive hurdle is to apply for Visa.
Almost every Country has outsourced their Visa Application process to VFS Global in Colombo and VFS is minting money from the situation. In addition to those who seeks migration, Employees and official Travelers & Business travelers too are seeking the service of VFS Global to obtain the Visa of the relevant Country.
It is very pathetic to see the plight of these Visa applicants who have to go through starting from the Security at the VFS Global Offices. Security officers treat the applicants as pickpockets, they are extremely rude, do not have the politeness when addressing applicants. After passing the security check applicants have to wait inside the office for hours. VFS says they start at 8.30 AM but in actual fact till about 9 am the counters are empty. Personnel who man the counters after coming late, start chatting with their colleagues dis respecting the people who are waiting to get their service.
After their chats they start announcing the Appointment Numbers, but that too not with a proper pronunciation. Applicants are fuming but stomach those thinking their Visa. Majority of those counter staff who are supposed to collect the Visa applications are uneducated, arrogant & ill-mannered. Instead of Going thro the check lists they try to interview applicants as if they are the people who decide whether issuing the Visa or not. In an uncertain issue they do not escalate the issue to their superior officer despite many requests by the applicants. Funnily though none of the Supervising staff are not to be seen. Training given to these counter staff seems very poor, it was very evident the way they behave and carry out their duties.
Very recently I happen to be at the VFS Global Visa Centre collects Visa applications on behalf of Japanese Embassy in Colombo. The similar rigmarole was observed and one distinguished looking gentleman heard saying “You just submit my application and let the Japanese embassy decides whether I will get the Visa or not kindly do not ridicule me asking silly questions etc.” These Counter staff is extremely rude and they go beyond their scope of work by passing sarcastic remarks to many innocent Visa seekers. They even pass remarks saying Gurami traffic (asylum seekers). Many may do not understand the meaning but there were learned people who understand what they say. I felt so sad how our own country men are treating their own people. Whose power that these counter boys & girls have taken.
After going through these harassments if your are lucky enough to hand over your application to their satisfaction you will get a printout showing the Visa fee of the Country you applied plus almost equivalent amount as the Service fee which is supposed to be the Income for VFS Global. This total you need to pay in cash to the cashier at VFS Global and await for the Visa Approval and your passport. This date will be notify to you after a weeks’ time minimum and again you have to come to the VFS Global Centre to collect your VISA and the passport along with your original documents. And again you have to go thro the similar harassment starting from the Security etc.. Is it the penalty you pay for born in a developing country or is it only in Sri Lanka. It is high time that VFS global upgrade their standard of service to do a justice for what they collect as a Service fee.
The author is a person who experienced this first hand recently at a VFS Global Centre in Colombo.