(Jamaica Gleaner) It was not the landing the Jamaicans who arrived at Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport on Wednesday evening would want again.
The 43 Jamaican ship workers of the Marella Discovery 2 were among the 115 people aboard the TUI charter flight that touched down amid the Kingston breeze and evening sunset.
After nine hours of travel, the hunger was indescribable, some of the ship workers reported, saying they only got sandwiches on the flight.
At the airport, the processing was lengthy and the wait unending as they sat in Jamaica Urban Transit Company buses to be transported to a St Ann hotel for a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
On top of that, one woman speaking on Radio Jamaica’s ‘Beyond the Headlines’ as ‘Stacy’, said while at the airport in Kingston, they were denied the use of restrooms by soldiers who guarded them.
“We’re not criminals,” Stacy said they protested, before they were eventually allowed to use the airport restrooms.
She said, too, that the Jamaicans had to ask the authorities for something to eat.
“Why is it that we had to ask?” questioned Stacy.
It reignited the heartbreak they endured on the high seas after being denied landing last month when the Marella Discovery 2 anchored south of Port Royal for more than 24 hours awaiting docking clearance.
The Government had imposed restrictions on incoming passengers as part of the COVID-19 containment measures, and so the Jamaicans required exemption to be granted landing.
The Government did not respond to their request for landing.
Meanwhile, another ship worker who was identified as ‘Jason’ said that after being denied landing last month, he spent days in his cabin wresting with his emotions.
“I cried, man,” Jason said on radio.
To make matters worse, he revealed that some of his colleagues of other nationalities mocked him, saying his Government did not want him.
“They said we’re refugees,” he lamented.
It was a reality that Stacy also had to confront.
For her, it was difficult accepting that her own country had turned its back on her.
She said, for days, she lost appetite and also locked herself in her cabin.
“It was distressing and very stressful,” she recalled.
Meanwhile, after waiting at the airport for almost three hours before finally starting the journey to St Ann, there were further delays for the Jamaicans on their arrival.
By now, it had been more than 24 hours since some of them had been travelling and the ship workers said that in St Ann, they had to redo paperwork that had earlier been submitted at the airport.
However, since checking in, the Jamaicans say things have been fine.
Yesterday, they underwent their first COVID-19 test are now awaiting the results.