By Theresa Goodwin
The Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Civil Aviation has given the assurance that a row between the head of the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Services, and some of his subordinates will be settled shortly.
In a string of documents that were leaked to Observer, Meteorologists and Forecasters accused the Acting Director of the Met Office, Dale Destin, of tampering with official weather forecast which, they say, is against international standards.
This is the second time such communication has been leaked to the media regarding complaints about Destin’s management style.
In one of the letters, the workers pointed to a change that was made to an advisory for Montserrat, which falls under Antigua and Barbuda’s jurisdiction.
Changes were made to reflect the cancellation of a Marine Advisory; however, the workers contend the changes were made while the forecaster who issued the original bulletin was still on duty and no discussion was had with that person.
On another occasion, Destin was accused of accessing the met office’s website from a remote relocation and apparently altering an aviation report while leaving the original author’s name on the document.
The workers say they felt compelled to inform the relevant authorities of their intention to protect themselves against the future publication of false documentation in their names and pointed to section 3 of Forgery Act Cap 181 which deals with this particular issue.
“For Mr Destin to remotely change and officially issue an aviation report to the aviation community without actually verifying the true conditions has seriously compromised the safety of aviation and seriously calls into question his decision-making abilities. There is also a bigger picture here sir; for our economy heavily depends on travel whether by land or sea; I’m sure you can now understand the impact of having accurate and verifiable information going out to the international community,” one of the letters addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Edson Joseph, read.
The President of the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Officers Association argued in this December 31 letter to the PS that due to this “breach of security” as of January 4th, 2020, the officers have decided to suspend the issuance of all documents that required their electronic signature out of fear they could be manipulated without their consent.
However, Joseph explained that there is a chain of command that has to be followed to deal with the issue and he remains open to ongoing dialogue to address the matter.
He also acknowledged that Destin has exhibited good managerial qualities and it is taking some time for both sides to adjust.
“Depending on your department and the history and the culture that has been there for years it may take a long time even for the best of us to adjust. But once everyone is able to work with it, they will be successful at the end of the day,” Joseph said.
He also disclosed that before the matter was brought to his attention, Destin met with him and acknowledged some of the changes that were made.
Observer also understands that the changes that were made to the official forecast were part of efforts to modernise reporting standards at the met office.
For his part, Destin told Observer that the matter is not as black as white as it is being portrayed to the media.