A heavy workload, poor working environment and low pay have made life difficult for immigration police officials at Suvarnabhumi airport.
High air traffic volumes have forced immigration officials to race against time in processing streams of passengers passing through their counters.
The daily rush has reduced meal times to 15-20 minutes for each meal. Their only comfort is that they do not need to pay for the meal, which is provided.
Because of the airport's rapid growth, some of their working space now serves as rest areas.
Although female officials are provided with proper rooms, their rest areas are cramped.
According to a senior official, the Immigration Bureau has tried to negotiate with the Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) in order to arrange more room and resting space for officials, but the request was rejected as most of the areas have been set aside for commercial use.
Each official receives a monthly salary and overtime payment of about 20,000 baht, but the amount is relatively small compared with the workload.
Health problems are also a serious issue for immigration officials at the airport. Pol Capt Kriangkrai Huanthaisong, a 46-year-old immigrant officer on the inbound counters, said he and his colleagues have been troubled with allergies at the workplace.
The airport's poor air circulation is accumulating germs and the second floor's inbound counters have a problem with dust. Pol Capt Saroj Tirakijphanich, who has worked at the airport for three years, said passengers' belongings also carry particles and germs into the area.
The large number of passengers passing through has made it difficult for officials to take breaks or go to the toilet. Many of them are suffering from cystitis.
Pol Snr Sgt Maj Juthamas Sookroongruang, 45, another official, said many female officials suffer from cystitis as they hardly find time to go to the toilet. Many officials also suffer backache from sitting on duty for long periods, and need medical treatment.
Pol Sgt Putthichai Palakap, 31, head of the inbound immigration counters, said the job he is doing is more suitable for young officials because it involves irregular working hours.
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- Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook