Sixty-one Ghanaians stranded in Barbados in the Atlantic for the past two-and-a-half months, were yesterday afternoon flown in on board in chartered flight, Miami Air International.
With them were 19 Nigerian passengers who declined to disclose any information about themselves. The evacuation was a collaboration between the governments of Ghana and Barbados.
Some of the Ghanaians who spoke to the Ghana News Agency said they got to know of the trip to that island organised by Seasons Travels and Tours through advertisements in the media.
They said after paying 2,000 dollars each, which was to cover their trip to Barbados where they were to spend two weeks as well as another trip back to Ghana after the two week period as arranged with the tour operator, they left Accra on January 31, 2008 on board a Ghana International Airlines (GIA) aircraft which was chartered by Seasons Travel and Tours (STT).
The passengers said after reaching Barbados on February 1, and spending two weeks, the flight, which was supposed to go for them on February 15, agreed upon with Seasons Travels and Tours, did not turn up.
Consequently, they said, they had to fend for themselves as they awaited their return flight. Whilst some managed to get jobs to make some money, others lodged with friends and family members.
As to whether they had all been brought back to Ghana, the returnees said: 'Those who have not returned must have decided on their own not to return, since many announcements were made for days in Barbados about an in-coming flight on May 8, 2008 to fly the stranded Ghanaian passengers home.
Isaac Sarpong, Corporate secretary and Head of Compliance, Regulatory and Legal of the Ghanaian International Airline, told the Ghana News Agency that by the legal implications of the agreement between STT and the GIA, the STT was solely responsible for the welfare of the passengers it transported to Barbados.
He said although the tour operators paid the GIA for the passengers to be flown to Barbados, they failed to pay for their return trip, although the passengers had already paid for that purpose.
'There is therefore no way Ghana International Airlines could be held responsible for what happened,' he said.
Officials of SST could not be reached for their comments.
Media reports in Ghana had earlier reported that a number of passengers on board a Ghana international Airlines flight were stranded in Barbados