By Victoria Ojeme
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has directed Nigerian evacuees from Bangkok to pay a total of N297,600 for their hotel, isolation and quarantine upon arrival in Nigeria as a precondition for their airlift.
A statement by the Embassy of Nigeria in Bangkok, Thailand, signed by the Head of Chancery, Nicholas Uhomoibhi, said the prices were negotiated in Nigeria.
“I am directed to bring to your attention due to measures that are beyond the control of COVID-19 local organizing team in Nigeria, all evacuees going to Nigeria henceforth are to now pay for their quarantine, isolation, accommodation centre or hotels before departure and arrival in Nigeria
“In this regard, all prospective evacuees are to note the negotiated rate below: Accommodation (N15,000 x16 days=N240,000) and Feeding (N3,600 x16 days=N57,600). Total: N297,600 at N18,600 x16 days.”
“Kindly be informed that these rates were negotiated in Nigeria and that the Embassy has been instructed not to airlift any evacuee who fails to pay the above fee,” he said.
It would be recalled that Nigerians from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United States and the United Kingdom have been evacuated and are currently isolation in Lagos and Abuja hotels at the expense of the government.
It appears the Federal government can no longer foot the bill as this new letter seems to suggest.
When Nigeria recorded its first case in February, Nigerians abroad asked to be evacuated home. The Federal Ministry of Health in April issued a statement saying it has started the process of evacuation and that those who wish to be evacuated will pay for their flight ticket and will also be placed on a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
A similar letter was sent to Nigerians residing in the State of Kuwait by the Embassy of Nigeria on May 13, 2020, to the effect that the evacuees will pay N297,600 for their quarantine in Nigeria apart from the airfares.
The letter, titled “Re: Request for the evacuation of Nigerian nationals in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, reads in part-
Further to our notice of 5th April 2020 on the above-mentioned subject matter, the Embassy wishes to inform that all intending evacuees are to pay for their quarantine/isolation/accommodation/centre/hotels before departure and arrival in Nigeria.
The negotiated rate is as follows: Accommodation-N240,000 (N15,000 x16 days); Feeding-N57,6009( N3,600 x 16 days). Total- N297,600 (N18,600 x16 days).
All evacuees are to pay the aforementioned amount for their quarantine/isolation/centre/hotels directly to the airline along with their tickets. Evacuees have the option to pay in dollars or its equivalent in Naira.
It is important to note that evacuees that do not pay for their quarantine/isolation/accommodation/ centre/ hotels will not be allowed to board the flight.”