Nigerian passengers flying into the country are complaining bitterly about the series of obstacles they have had to face while undertaking the government enforced COVID-19 tests on arrival from other countries.
Some of the passengers have alleged cases of duplicated charges for the COVID-19 tests yet they end up not being tested as the designated labs cannot be found. Even when found, some of the labs are beyond reach. In one video seen by Nairametrics, the passenger claims the lab was only located in Abuja despite being told that it was nationwide.
Others have lamented about being forced to run multiple tests, at the threat of being barred from leaving the country for failure to take these tests. Passengers have also alleged that the entire process is looking like an elaborate scam designed to extort Nigerians and frustrate travelers who are eager to reconnect with their families.
Recall that Nairametrics reported last month that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced rules about COVID-19 PCR testing before entering the country.
“It is mandatory for intending travellers to carry-out a COVID-19 PCR test at least 96 hours before travel to Nigeria,” the NCDC said.
The NCDC also said that the NCAA had notified airlines that passengers to Nigeria who couldn’t pay for the test online could still board flights, as long as they had COVID-19 PCR negative test results.
National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, announced last month that:
“To enable early detection and reduce the risk of further transmission based on data and our current laboratory capacity, all incoming travelers must be tested by a certified private laboratory after 7 days of returning to the country.”
In a video seen by Nairametrics, which was shot by a visibly irritated journalist a few moments after arriving the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the journalist protested that despite doing a free test in London, he was still forced to pay N48,000.00 and was given nothing but a piece of paper, and told to go to a clinic that could only be found in Abuja after he was told that the clinic had branches nationwide.
He said, “I wanna (sic) change what is happening; people cannot go 16 hours on a flight and arrive to fill forms, are we goats?”
A Syrian national, filling forms alongside the protesting Nigerian, said that he had passed through 3 different airports before arriving in Abuja, but only at the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport was he told to stand in long queues and fill forms.
The journalist stated that the NCDC portal was not working, and he registered his displeasure saying, “I arrived Nigeria and there was a long queue of people waiting to pay money for COVID-19 tests. Is the one I did in London not enough? Are Nigerian hospitals better than London hospitals… I had to pay N48 thousand and I was given a [piece of] paper and told to go to an Ahab Clinic. I was told the clinic has branches, but they only have a branch in Abuja.
“What it means is that I have to leave my hometown to Abuja and go back to Lagos for my flight. The government is sitting down waiting for passengers in order to extort them.
“The government plants its people there (airport) to extort them.”
Another video of a frustrated passenger seen on the Brekete Family Radio Show decried the poor delivery services at the clinics and the multiple orders to pay the sum of N42,750.00 or else he would be barred from leaving the country back to Sweden. The passenger flew in from Sweden only to be frustrated as he seek to return.
He said he was given the option of paying online or paying when he arrived at the airport. On arrival, he was debited the sum of N42,750 through a POS transaction, and given a lab to collate his result. However, the addresses of the labs couldn’t even be found on Google Maps.
He disclosed that he later found the lab after asking for directions. While at the lab, he was told that his results were sent to a centre in Lagos to be processed, but the next day, the lab told him and other passengers on the same flight that their names were not on the systems and that they had to pay another N42,750 for another test result.
What this means
Despite the NCDC’s orders that passengers flying into Nigeria can conduct COVID-19 tests at least 96 hours before entering Nigeria, the Nigerian Government still expects passengers who have conducted tests to pay hefty sums for tests that should be done for free.
Also, with the directive that passengers must conduct local tests in accredited private clinic facilities, passengers are being given very poor service by the labs, as it is obvious that some of the labs don’t have the capacity to run the tests, while charging passengers multiple times to conduct tests after misplacing their results.