COVID 19: Stranded Ghanaians In The UK Decry Repatriation Conditions
Ghanaians stranded in the United Kingdom (UK) as a result of the closure of borders have decried the stringent conditions placed on their return to Ghana.
Reports coming from London, UK, indicate that a large number of Ghanaians are wondering how they could meet the conditions set out by the Ghana High Commission requiring that they bear the cost of travel and quarantine.
Documents from the High Commission reveal that each person is to bear the cost of travel on KLM and the cost of staying in 2 to 4-star hotels ranging from GHC500.00 to GHC600.00 with the total amount paid directly to selected hotels prior to travel.
“All passengers are also to note that they will cover the cost of the mandatory 14-day quarantine with a possible extension to 21 days depending on individual cases. The cost of the quarantine as indicated below PER NIGHT MUST be paid directly to a selected hotel before passengers are allowed to travel,” a notice from the High Commission demanded.
The Mission is requiring that they pay this before the scheduled flight slated for Friday, June 17, 2020.
This has triggered reactions from the affected persons who think the conditions would eventually deter them from taking advantage of the opportunity to return home.
A stranded Ghanaian, who decided to speak on condition of anonymity, noted, that, “most of us came here for some specific reasons including visit, meetings or conferences; how can we raise this huge amount to return home, having been left to our fate in a foreign land for some months now?”
Per the costs, one is to make available a minimum of GHC7,000.00 for 14 days of quarantine in addition to the airfare. This could go higher if they need to stay longer.
Those with return tickets on KLM or Air France are allowed to use those tickets at no extra cost. However, those who went to the UK with other airlines are to buy fresh tickets.
“We know of many hotels with lower fares that can be used for this exercise so we wonder how government could go for only the high cost ones. We could be made to choose from some of them to reduce the burden, though the current ones are subsidized,” one of them complained.
“We are not against paying for our air ticket, we are not against being quarantined, we are saying, let us self-quarantined or better still offer other hotels which charge lesser than these 3 hotels…. Besides, even here in the UK, there are decent hotels that cost less than 50 pounds per night,” another retorted.
According to some of them, they contacted officers at the Ghana High Commission in London, who claim they had no hand in the arrangements since they were acting on the instructions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, thus couldn’t do anything about the rates.
The stranded Ghanaians also raised issues over stigmatization, especially considering how the process is being carried out. “The erroneous impression is being created that those who return from outside are carriers of the disease. Something must be done about it to save us from being ostracized by our families and neighbors when we return home.”
A large number of Ghanaians are currently stranded in several countries as a result of the closure of borders due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Efforts are being made to repatriate some of them but the conditions for the exercise are deterring many of them.