By Dirisu Yakubu
Against the backdrop of the recent ban by the federal government of travellers from India, Brazil and Turkey into the country; the Federal Ministry of Aviation has said sanctions await international airlines that violate measures put in place to stem possible entrance of new coronavirus into the country.
There have been upsurge of infection COVID-19 cases in those countries with Turkey ordering a full lockdown in an attempt to curtail further spread of the virus.
Recently, a Presidential steering committee chaired by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha in a statement recently said airline caught violating will pay a fine of $3, 500 per passenger.
“Non-Nigerian passport holders and non-residents who visited Brazil, India or Turkey within Fourteen (14) days preceding travel to Nigeria, shall be denied entry into Nigeria,” Mustapha, said in a statement, adding that “these precautionary measures are a necessary step to minimize the risk of a surge in Covid-19 cases introduced to Nigeria” from parts of the world where the virus remains a huge threat.
Since the new directive was announced, airlines plying international routes from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airports, Abuja, have demonstrated eagerness to comply.
Apart from the compulsory use of facemask and routine hand sanitizing, our correspondent gathered that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN and other relevant bodies are doing their bit at ensuring compliance with all CIVID-19 related protocols.
In a chat with Vanguard, James Odaudu, Director of Press and Public Affairs, Federal Ministry of Aviation, said all international airlines are expected to comply, adding however that those found to have violated the directive would be punished appropriately.
He said: “All airlines plying the routes are adequately informed and therefore, there is no need for any enforcement for them to comply. However, there are penalties for disobedience to a country’s civil aviation regulations.
An official of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority who does not want his name in print all international airlines operating at the airport adhere strictly to the Provisional Quarantine Protocol earlier put in place by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19.
He added that though the virus is on its way “out of our lives”, passengers are still expected to test negative by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from the country of exit four days (96 hours) before departure. Tests done more than 96 hours before departure are not valid
Passengers are required to fill in an online Health Declaration/Self-Reporting Form located on the Nigeria International Travel Portal which must be submitted online or printed for presentation on arrival. Information provided must be verifiable.