Trinidadian pilot Jensen Kangalee, who is currently stuck in Turks and Caicos Islands, is desperately calling on the Minister of National Security Stuart Young to grant him an exemption as soon as since his funds have all now been depleted and he has to depend on friends and family to support his daily needs.
Kangalee, originally from Petit Valley, has been stuck in the Turks and Caicos Islands since March and has been constantly applying for an exemption to return home and most of the time with no response from the ministry.
Kangalee is the father of an 11-year-old boy.
“I am married and my wife and my boy almost every day asks me, ‘Daddy when are you coming home?’ He just got into Standard 5 and he is preparing for next year’s SEA exams and it is important for a father to be around his son and a wife needs her husband and a husband needs his wife.”
“I was in the corporate world before. I used to work at TSTT as an account manager and while I achieved my lifelong dream of becoming a pilot, not at the expense of being away from my family, I don’t want to lose my family in pursuit of this. The price is too high so I’m willing to come back home and let this thing blow over and if the airline would have me back then I would be happy to return here but right now with no money coming in because I haven’t gotten a proper salary in seven month. I got paid as I fly so for two months I got no money…one month I got $100, another month I got $300, one month I got $800 and another month I got nothing, so it has not been easy. I had to get help from my parents, my wife’s parents and sister who works and lives in Peru sends money for me so I can get food,” he added.
Kangalee explained that he was employed on contract to fly a certain type of aircraft – the Dash 6 300 series, 200 series and disclosed that the airline sold all so there is now no plane for him to fly so he is technically out of a job. He, however, noted that he is currently in training as a captain on a smaller plane – a ten-seater, including the pilot.
“But there’s hardly enough work to support me because I get paid by the hours. If I fly a couple hours for the month I would not get a proper salary.”
Kangalee said he missed a flight back home as his employer had a flight to Barbados yesterday.
“My wife is having her 50th birthday this month, which is a milestone and I would like to be home for that and I don’t think I am going to be there. I could understand that because of COVID-19 but if it is that the Government would have been a little more responsive in a timely manner I could have availed myself for that service.”
“I don’t know when my employer would be doing another flight to Barbados so that’s the challenge and I have to be careful because after not getting a proper salary for seven months I am not able to afford to pay for anything in Barbados like hotel and accommodation and food because if it is for example there is a flight from my employer down to Barbados where am I going to stay? How am I going to eat, how am I going to take care of myself until that time that Caribbean Airlines would be able to send a flight over and we don’t know when that will be and how often that will be so that can be days, weeks, and I don’t have the money to pay for that,” he added.
Kangalee’s first request for exemption was sent on August 11. His second email was sent on August 18 requesting an acknowledgement or reply to his original email. He also called a telephone number on August 20 and was advised that it was a minister’s office but was assured that his request would be looked at. Subsequent emails were sent on August 28, September 11 and October 1.
On October 2, however, Kangalee said he got an acknowledgement email of his requests. The email read: “We acknowledge receipt of your email. We recognize the difficulties and inconvenience that the closure of borders have brought about. COVID-19 continues to be a global pandemic and we are managing the return of nationals back into Trinidad and Tobago. Once a decision is made on your application, you will be contacted.”