A mild drama on Saturday ensued at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, due to the refusal of some of the arriving passengers to pay for the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test.
Most of the passengers affected were the Nigerians, who on Saturday returned from Senegal after attending a conference in the French-speaking country on World Water Day, recognised by the United Nations Organisation (UNO).
Our correspondent learnt that trouble started when the Port Health officials at the two airports insisted that the passengers must apply and pay for the PCR test, which some of them kicked against.
According to the arrival team, less than 24 hours ago, they carried out the same test in Senegal, which proved to be negative and wondered why they should be subjected to another test in Nigeria.
Their insistence on not paying for the test caused delay in clearing of other passengers at the two airports by the health officials and the Nigerian Immigration Service.
At the Lagos Airport, the protesting passengers argued that the principle of reciprocity should apply to the treatment of Nigerian travellers who were not mandated to carry out two tests in Senegal.
One of the passengers, who raised the alarm and described himself as Charles, stated that the officials from Port Health at the Lagos Airport, insisted they must pay sums ranging from N35,000 to N45,200, which would enable them to fill the form for the test and carry out the test at an approved health centre.
Another passenger described the conflicting policy as a rip-off, maintaining that participants from the other African countries did not face the same challenge they went through in Nigeria. She said: “This is now a money-making venture used to frustrate international travel for Nigerians and foreigners. It is simply unacceptable.”
At the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, the passengers were also subjected to the same treatment as Lagos, our correspondent learnt.
One of the affected passengers insisted that the mandatory PCR test for arriving passengers with a valid PCR test certificate was an exploitation of the travelling public.