Officials of the Ministry of Transport, Work and International Transport of Barbados say they are working around the clock to get stranded visitors from Ghana to Accra successfully.
They indicated that government, having recognised the plight of these stranded passengers due to unfortunate circumstances, is taking urgent steps through diplomatic channels to bring this consular emergency to the attention of the High Commission of Ghana and will thus work with the Ghana government towards the speedy repatriation of its stranded nationals.
Again, the local ground handling agency for Seasons Travel and Tours, the Charterer or tour operator which went into an agreement with Ghana International Airlines (GIA) to transport the passengers to Barbados has also been proactive in these efforts, a statement from the ministry stated.
“Ever since it was brought to our attention that visitors entering Barbados from Ghana on February 1, 2008 for a two-week stay had been stranded here due to a break-down of private tour arrangements, government had intervened and is actively seeking ways to facilitate their repatriation.”
The Ministry of Transport, Works and International Transport had said it received an e-mailed application dated January 17, 2008 from GIA in association with Seasons Tours and Travel to permit a charter tour operation into Barbados on January 20, 2008 and depart the next day.
However, having received the application, it queried the actual period of the tour since no return date had been given.
Subsequently, on January 28, a revised application was received from GIA, stating in part that the revised dates were now January 31 to February 1, 2008 with a subsequent service on February 15 to return passengers.
About 150 stranded tourists sent to Barbados by the Ghana International Airlines (GIA) in collaboration with Season's Travel and Tours, could not return to Ghana due to an ongoing difference in position between the Charterer and the authorities in Barbados, a statement issued by GIA some two weeks ago stated.
Though the return journey was scheduled for February 15, 2008, GIA said it could not carry out the duty because it did not receive the agreed consideration from the Charterer, Season's Travel and Tours.
Again, on February 29th, GIA could not transport the passengers because the Charterer had failed in paying for the return flight.
Gifty Annan-Myers, acting Chief Executive Officer of GIA said the Charterer had defaulted in paying for the return flight, especially when the government of Barbados required the GIA to fly empty to that country, a situation which could not be borne by the operator since it entailed extra costs.
She stated that this notwithstanding the airline had not abandoned the about 150 passengers it transported to the Barbados.
By Charles Nixon Yeboah