COVID-19: Stranded Nigerians protest govt directive to pay N297,600 for 16-day quarantine

Stranded Nigerians recently evacuated from Dubai

Stranded Nigerians being evacuated from their different locations abroad have disagreed with government asking them to pay for their feeding and 16-day accommodation at designated centres for their quarantine.

Earlier before the latest decision, the returnees were only expected to pay for their flight ticket, while government paid for their two weeks stay in isolation.

But in the revised guidelines, government said the evacuees would have to pay for the feeding and length of days to be spent in isolation.

Even, with the new rules, returnees from United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United States and the United Kingdom observing their two-week isolation in Lagos and Abuja hotels and currently being taken care of by the government, will henceforth personally pay their bills.

The Nigerian government disclosed this on Thursday, in a latter dated May 14, 2020, issued from the Embassy of Nigeria in Bangkok, Thailand, and was signed by the Head of Chancery, Nicholas P. Uhomoibhi.

In the letter, it was said that each returnee will pay a sum of N297,600 for feeding and quarantine in Nigeria.

The letter reads: “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.

ALSO READ: Nigeria: Adamawa, Gombe Borno reopen churches, mosques, suspend COVID-19 lockdown

“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.”

The new guidelines, it was learnt, have been sent to Nigerian Embassies and High Commissions and had been communicated the to country’s nationals wishing to return home.

According to the government, it imposed the fees “due to measures that are beyond the control of COVID-19 local organizing team,” as it appears that government could no longer be able to foot the bills of 4,000 Nigerians who have showed interest to return.

Many stranded Nigerians who intend to return home were said to have been informed.

For instance, the stranded Nigerians in Turkey, were said to have been informed by the Embassy in Ankara through a memo dated May 13, 2020, to pay a sum of N297,600.

However, many of them have protested the fees, with one saying: “As seen on Embassy of Nigeria in Turkey, how would a stranded person be able to afford this?

“I really don’t know the kind of sense that has possessed those in charge.

“Why not make use of a cheaper hotel or give options so that those who can’t afford this rate can go for a cheaper rate.”

Also, another protecting Nigerian, said: “This has really shown the high level of irresponsibility and how unmerciful those who decided on those figures can be, it is a rubbish decision.”

Nigerians returning from Thailand, Turkey and the State of Kuwait too, it was learnt had received the information.

A similar letter and the notification of payment, it was learnt had been sent on Wednesday, May 13,2020, to all Nigerians in the State of Kuwait by the Embassy of Nigeria, notifying the evacuees on the payment of N297,600 for their feeding and quarantine in Nigeria.

The letter, entitled “Re: Request for evacuation of Nigerian nationals in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” said, “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 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.”