Hon. Kwame Governs Agbodza, Member of Parliament for Adaklu Constituency has described as outrageous the mandatory US$150 Covid-19 test fee at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) for Ghanaians who are returning home following the reopening of the Kotoka International Airport.
Speaking on Good Morning Ghana on Tuesday, Hon. Kwame Governs Agbodza disclosed that many Ghanaians outside the country are unable to take advantage of the fact that Kotoka has been reopened to return home, because they cannot afford the exorbitant mandatory testing fee of $150.
The honourable Member of Parliament urged government to, as a matter urgency, do something about the cost of testing for Ghanaian citizens.
President Akufo-Addo had on his 16th Covid-19 Address to the Nation on Sunday 30th August announced the opening of the country’s air borders beginning from Tuesday, September 1, 2020 and that every passenger who arrives in Ghana must undergo a mandatory Covid-19 test which cost US$150. According to the president, the testing was part of directives outlined by the Ministry of Aviation and Health to prevent the importation of the disease into the country.
However, noting that neighbouring Togo and Cote d’Ivoire are providing similar testing services for their citizens free of charge, Hon. Agbodza expressed outrage at the $one hundred and fifty dollar ($150) charge, especially when it is only about ten dollars ($10) out of the $150 that comes to Ghana, with the remaining one hundred and forty dollars ($140) going into private pockets.
“This has become business.” Hon. Agbodza stated, adding that, “The person who did the investment would cut the biggest possible profit. That is why we are paying US$150. Guess what, from the US$150, Ghana Airport Company, we are told, gets US$4. Ghana Health Service gets US$3 and Ghana Civil Aviation gets US$3. So out of the US$150 a Ghanaian is forced to cough up, only US$10 goes to entities that are related to government.”
Calling into question government’s decision to award the testing contract to a foreign company instead of giving the contract to Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research, Hon. Agbodza stressed that, “Noguchi could do this if given the opportunity – and even if Noguchi took US$150, the accruals would have been to improve the status of Noguchi for all of us in preparedness for the next outbreak. Instead of making this money and the whole country gets only US$10 and somebody from Korea, whose company is registered in Dominican Republic come and take this money. And nobody even knows how they were procured.”
He indicated that if president Akuffo-Addo can put in place interventions to mitigate the economic impact of Covid-19 on Ghanaians in Ghana, it is only fair and proper for him to extend the same courtesy to Ghanaians stranded outside the country who want to return to Ghana.
“If government was trying to mitigate the cost, it would not have given the job to a foreign company. Imagine if this was to be done by a home-grown company like Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research. This is not an action of a govt that is trying to fight covid-19. I see this as profiteering,” Hon. Agbodza lamented.
“If govt can give stimulus packages to businesses in Ghana because of Covid-19, why can’t the hand full of Ghanaians stranded outside Ghana be tested free at the airport. I feel the US$150 is unjustified, it could be lower,” he further argued.