VISA applicants visiting the Australian High Commission (AHC) in Waigani have complained about being made to queue up for hours in the hot sun in the car park outside the High Commission building.
Frustrated applicants, who have been queuing in the car park from early as 6am, expressed their anger to The National yesterday, saying it was unjust for the AHC to treat them like that.
Among the applicants was Knox Kulie Kulno, a cancer patient who was waiting to enquire about his visa application lodged five weeks ago in Mt Hagen, to go for his regular review on his stem cell transplant at the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane.
Mr Kulno said that it was uncomfortable for him to wait in the sun for too long.
“Look, I am sick person. It’s uncomfortable standing under the heat of the sun,” Mr Kulno said.
“We should be given fair treatment and treated with human dignity and respect like any other person travelling to Australia.
“Standing under the sun outside the car park like this is embarrassing for us,” he said.
Mr Kulno said he was a regular visitor to Australia not only for medical reasons but other business travel and he was disappointed and frustrated to be made to wait in the sun.
Cecelia Pakule, who travelled from Madang yesterday morning to change her visa status, also expressed similar sentiments.
“We are not terrorists wanting to go to Australia or other counties via Australia,” Mrs Pakule said.
“We are genuine Papua New Guineans trying to go to Australia for genuine reasons and such stringent security measures like this imply that we are somehow dangerous to Australia,” she said.
Others expressed similar sentiments that the AHC should look at other ways to provide visas rather than locking them outside of the premises and making them wait under the hot sun from morning till midday every day of the week.
A spokesperson from the AHC said it was more convenient dealing with simple visa enquiries and passport collections on the spot at the front gate, which helped reduce overall waiting and queuing times for clients.
He said lodgment of applications and more complex visa or migration enquiries were still dealt with at the visa office inside the main building.
However, the majority of clients can have their inquiries dealt with quickly at the front gate.
The spokesperson said with the Christmas holidays approaching, they were experiencing a very high number of visa applications – currently more than 130 applications per day.
He assured that marquees would soon be erected outside the front gate to provide protection from the sun and rain in the queue.