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COVID 19: Outcry over permit as returning passengers decry treatment by airlines

More Nigerian passengers are said to be stranded in various countries abroad over the country’s COVID-19 permit, Daily Trust reports. ....

More Nigerian passengers are said to be stranded in various countries abroad over the country’s COVID-19 permit, Daily Trust reports. 

This is despite the directive by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to foreign airlines to board passengers that are having difficulty with generating their Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) code. 

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, had on Thursday narrated his ordeal as he was prevented from boarding at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, for allegedly failing to obtain permit to travel. 

Daily Trust reports that inbound passengers are expected to make payment online and generate a PCR code, which is a travel permit but many passengers have been experiencing difficulty in recent weeks. 

The Director-General of the NCAA, Musa Nuhu, in a letter, told all airlines operating in and out of the country to board passengers without the evidence of payment in view of the challenges some of them are experiencing while trying to fill their Health and Travel history into Nigeria’s International Travel Portal (NITP).

The NCAA letter was dated September 11, 2021, with the heading, “Permission for airlines to board passengers traveling to Nigeria who are unable to show evidence of payment for day seven COVID-19 PCR test or generate paid QR code/permit to fly”. 

The DG explained that the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has been notified of the challenges being faced by the travellers.

The letter has therefore mandated airlines to board any traveler to Nigeria who is unable to either pay for the repeat day-7 COVID-19 PCR test or generate the paid QR code/permit to fly. 

Despite the directive, it was learnt that many passengers including eminent Nigerians were being denied boarding by foreign airlines. 

But a source told our correspondent last night that the portal, which was experiencing hitches at the time the NCAA issued the directive is now working and only requires passengers to enter appropriate details.  

Daily Trust reports that passengers were required to enter their details including passport and ticket numbers in order to generate the bar code which is a permit to travel. 

But Prof. Wole Soyinka lamented how he was delayed in France for 48 hours while speaking with journalists in Lagos. 

He explained that while there was no attempt to banish him, he felt like serving a decree of banishment for 48 hours that the event lasted. 

He said, “Of course, there is something known as force majeure that means you cannot help it. If there are floods, or there is turbulence and your plane cannot land and it is turned somewhere else, yes we understand that.”

Former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Bode George also confirmed to our correspondent that he suffered delay during a transit flight from Germany on Lufthansa, saying he nearly missed his flight until an official at the airport later recognised him and intervened on his behalf. 

Just Sunday, another passenger said he was deboarded by Air France “over an innocuous form”. 

When contacted last night, the NCAA DG said he would find out what specifically happened with the affected passenger, confirming that the portal is working and there shouldn’t be an issue if the passengers had followed the laid down procedures.

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