- Travellers have expressed their displeasure regarding the exploitation by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control
- Checks by Legit.ng revealed despite the COVID-19 tests, travellers are still requested to register and pay for the COVID-19 test upon arrival
- Meanwhile, a particular airline demanded a registration fee of N39,000 for the test, yet after the payment by travellers, no test was done
Most Nigerian travellers have constantly lamented the exploitation by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), at international airports across the country.
Legit.ng has observed that upon arrival at the international airport from whatever country to Nigeria, travellers who must have done their COVID-19 tests 24 hours earlier are still compelled to register and pay for another one upon arrival.
On Sunday, March 27, 2022, Legit.ng reporter caught up with some travellers at the arriver lounge of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Most of the visibly angry travellers held back by the NCDC officials complained that they were being delayed unjustly by the Nigerian government even after they had done their tests earlier before flying.
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The travellers, the majority of whom arrived at the airport around 8.20 am through Qatar airways were forced to do what the officials called QR registration. Each was asked to pay N39,500 for the test.
Legit.ng observed that after the payment had been made, no actual test was carried out. But the officials claimed that the federal government introduced the test on arrival as one of the preventive measures against COVID-19.
When our correspondent probed further, an official who was not authorized to speak to our reporter and pleaded to speak off-camera said it has not been easy doing the job because of the constant complaints by travellers.
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“This is what we face every other day. These passengers don’t understand that we are merely carrying out a task. Some of us here are not happy delaying people and collecting this type of huge amount of money from them. It’s not easy at all, but the work must continue.”
But when Legit.ng probed further on whether there is a testing centre at the airport, the official said:
“We have none here. What we do majorly is that during the filling of the QR test, the returning passenger is expected to fill his preferred hospital where the test could be carried out, after which he proceeds to the hospital to do his arrival test.’’
But it was further observed that the passengers are merely asked to go and do their test without further monitoring. No vehicle was provided for them to actually do the arrival test and no NCDC official is mandated to monitor the passengers while leaving the airport.
A passenger, Mr Adulfattah told Legit.ng that he was not even worried about the amount paid, but was worried that the intention of the government was not actually to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s an irony that we are here paying money to run a test on arrival but the officials care less on whether we are actually going to do the test or not. Do you know how many people the same people who have been compelled to run this test will even have contact with before they get to their various home? The driver of the family members that will come to welcome them will have regular contact with them. Obviously, if some of them will go for the test, they mamy not actually go today. That is if they will even go at all. I don’t understand this type of preventive measure. Is it just about the money?”
Another passenger laments
Another passenger lamented the high level of exploitation associated wth the policy, terming it obnoxious.
“What is actually happening in Nigeria? I did my test not even up to 24 hours. What are the NCDC rules on COVID-19 testing? What is the essence of a last after you had done 24 hours earlier? How can anyone request another test from me when I have already done my test?” he said, displaying his result for Qatar.
“Let me tell you the truth, it’s all about the money and not about us."
Our correspondent observed that COVID-19 protocols were not observed in the registration lounge as majority of the travellers and officers were without face masks. The passengers neither use hand sanitizers nor face masks. While filling out the registration forms, both pen and paper go to different hands, even as social distancing was almost zero.
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A customs official told Legit.ng that the development has made passengers become extremely hostile to them. He said it’s not expected that someone who paid such an amount to start laughing or joking with you.
“But I hear government will soon scrap the policy."
The anonymous officer said that Nigerians failed to protest against the policy that clearly abused their rights.
The official said:
“The problem is that some persons have the money and could even pay before the officials ask. People don’t ask questions. Some grumble past us, but always fail to asked NCDC questions.”
A National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, officials said the government will scrap the policy in a matter of days. He, however, said, “we have been told that this very policy will end next week.
Efforts to speak with other NCDC staff at the airport failed as they refused to talk to our correspondent.
But Legit.ng observed that most of the bottles of the local hand sanitisers in front of the desks were empty. Officials quickly moved the empty sanitisers from the desk when our correspondent made an attempt to snap them.
A passenger had earlier wondered what the money collected from passengers is being used for, urging anti-corruption agencies to probe into the matter.
Gates Foundation, Wellcome pledge $300 million to improve vaccine development, research
Meanwhile in furtherance of efforts channelled towards the eradication of the COVID-19 virus and its antecedent pandemic, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with Wellcome has pledged $300 million ($150 million each) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
A statement which was seen by Legit.ng said the donation, is aimed at financing the COVID-19 pandemic response and accelerating epidemic preparedness across the globe.
The foundation while calling on world leaders to support CEPI to help end the COVID-19 crisis said it is important that preparations are made for future pandemics, and address epidemic threats in the world.