From Yusuf Alli, Abuja
Stranded Nigerians that are returning home will henceforth offset their two-week quarantine bill on arrival, according to the revised guidelines.
Hitherto, the returnees were only required to pay for their flight while the government took care of their two weeks stay in isolation.
Returnees from United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United States and the United Kingdom who are currently kept in Lagos and Abuja hotels are being taken care of by the government. The new guidelines stopped that.
The new guidelines have been sent to Embassies and High Commissions which have communicated them to Nigerians wishing to return home.
The government said it imposed the fees “due to measures that are beyond the control of COVID-19 local organizing team.”
There were indications last night that the government could no longer afford the cost of taking care for two weeks, of the estimated 4,000 Nigerians who have indicated interest to return.
Nigerians returning from Thailand, Turkey and the State of Kuwait, it was learnt had recovered the information.
A 14th May, letter by the Embassy of Nigeria in Bangkok, Thailand, which was signed by the Head of Chancery, Nicholas P. Uhomoibhi, said each returnee is expected to pay N297,600 for quarantine and feeding in Nigeria.
The letter said: “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.”
A similar letter sent to all Nigerians in the State of Kuwait by the Embassy of Nigeria on May 13, 2020, said the evacuees will pay N297,600 for their quarantine in Nigeria apart from the air fares.
The letter, titled “Re: Request for evacuation of Nigerian nationals in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” said 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 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.”
For Turkey, the Embassy in Ankara informed them with a May 13 memo to pay N297,600.
Some of the stranded Nigerians have been protesting the fees.
One of them said: “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.”
Another said: “This has really shown the high level of irresponsibility and how unmerciful that decided on those figures can be can be… Rubbish decision.”