Travlers to pay for COVID-19 tests at Zimbabwean ports of entry - NAN
Zimbabwean Government announces it will charge for COVID-19 tests done on travellers showing symptoms of the disease at ports of entry.
The Zimbabwean Government announced on Tuesday that it will charge for COVID-19 tests done on travellers showing symptoms of the disease at ports of entry.
The measure is meant to allow the government to replenish laboratory commodities, Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, told a post-cabinet media briefing on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe will resume international flights on Thursday this week after a six-month suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Domestic flights resumed in the middle of this month.
The government has announced that all travellers to Zimbabwe will be required to have PCR COVID-19 clearance certificates issued by a recognised facility within 48 hours from the date of departure in line with WHO guidelines, among other health and safety regulations.
â€œAs a measure to guarantee the safety of travellers, Cabinet further resolved that in line with Statutory Instrument (216) (5) Section 8, which requires travellers showing COVID-19 symptoms, whether or not they have a COVID-19 free certificate to be tested.
â€œA nominal fee of US$60 be levied on travellers tested at ports of entry and that the proceeds be used to replenish laboratory commodities,â€ Mutsvangwa said.
She said metered taxi operators have been allowed to resume services for the movement of tourists and citizens who are unable to use public transport.
The minister said security personnel will now be fully enforcing critical COVID-19 containment measures such as physical distancing and proper wearing of masks after the government has relaxed lockdown restrictions.
The country has recorded 7,816 COVID-19 cases, 6,112 recoveries and 228 deaths as on Monday. (Xinhua/NAN)
South African Airways Enters Critical Week in Funding Search - BLOOMBERG
By Loni Prinsloo and Antony Sguazzin
- Administrators say they are making plans for liquidation
- Government has said many private offers have been made
South African Airways administrators said they will decide within the next week whether to sell or liquidate the insolvent carrier if 10.5 billion rand ($620 million) pledged by the government fails to be delivered.
The business-rescue practitioners have placed SAA under care and maintenance in the meantime, suspending all operations, while they wait for the state to come up with the required package, according to a letter to creditors sent on Tuesday.
â€œCertain funders have indicated a willingness to provide a portion of the fundingâ€ subject to certain conditions, the administrators said, without giving further detail. How to proceed if a cash injection doesnâ€™t come to fruition may include a sale of the carrier or its assets, with liquidation another option, they said.
The fate of SAA has become an emotive topic in South Africa as the country struggles to recover from Covid-19 and an economy that was in recession even before the virus hit. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has made the resuscitation of the airline a major priority, but Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has made clear he does not support further bailouts with limited state funds needed elsewhere.
The National Treasury said in July it would help â€œmobilizeâ€ funding, and Gordhanâ€™s Department of Public Enterprises has repeatedly claimed to have received numerous approaches from interested private backers. Yet no formal offer has been placed more than two months later, and itâ€™s not clear whether backing will be secured, despite some interest from Ethiopian Airlines Group.
The Treasury wants strict conditions attached to any guarantees it provides for loans to SAA, two people familiar with the matter said this week. President Cyril Ramaphosa has backed the airlineâ€™s rescue, they said.
SAA will fly the cargo and repatriation flights it has already committed to but wonâ€™t accept any more for now, a spokeswoman for the administrators said. South Africa is due to open its international border for commercial flights from Oct. 1, more than six months after closing them to contain the coronavirus.
FG lifts ban on Emirates Airlines - PUNCH
BY Sodiq Oyeleke
The Federal Government has lifted the ban stopping Emirates Airlines from operating in Nigeria.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced this via his Twitter handle on Wednesday.
He tweeted, â€œUAE has written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, consequently decision has been reached to allow Emirates to fly into Nigeria.
â€œCommencement of the Visa issuance is condition precedent. Please bear with this unusual situation. Many thanks.â€
The minister had on September 18 announced the ban on Emirates flights to Nigeria.
The Federal Government had earlier vowed to enforce the principle of reciprocity in granting permission to airlines to resume operations.
Before the resumption of international flights in the country, the Federal Government had announced that Air France, KLM, Etihad, RwandAir, Air Namibia, Royal Air Maroc, Lufthansa, TAAG Angola Airlines were not granted approval to commence flight operations.
Cabo Verde and South African airlines were also denied approval as international flights had yet to resume in their countries.
Middle East Airline, British Airways, Delta, Qatar, Ethiopian Airlines, Air Peace, Virgin Atlantic, Asky Airlines, Africa World Airways, Air Cote Dâ€™ Ivoire, Kenya Airways, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines were all granted approval to resume operations in Nigeria.
EgyptAir, Virgin Atlantic, Turkish Airlines, Africa World Airways, Kenya Airways, and Middle East Airlines were announced as the airlines permitted to use Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, while British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Africa World Airways, and Middle East Airlines were granted approval to use Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Sirika said it was necessary for Nigeria to implement the principle of reciprocity to all countries that had banned flights from Nigeria.
Weâ€™ll reopen Eko bridge in October â€” Fed Works Controller - VANGUARD
The Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Mr Olukayode Popoola, says the ongoing emergency rehabilitation of the Eko Bridge linking Alaka is almost completed and will be ready for use in October.
Popoola told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) while inspecting the bridge in Lagos on Wednesday that the new bearings had arrived from overseas and had been replaced along with the expansion joints. â€œWe have removed the damaged expansion joint on Eko Bridge; we have also removed the bearings and replaced the damaged bearings with new ones. â€œIt was the bearings that failed initially and that is why we have the piers that are being worked on. Now, we have put the new bearings and we want to complete the concrete works on the piers. â€œThen we will go on top of the bridge and replace the expansion joint before we open it to traffic. â€œBefore the end of October, we are going to open this section of Eko Bridge (linking Alaka) to traffic. â€œAt this point, we removed one expansion joint. We have fixed two.
The construction materials we were expecting from Europe have arrived, that is why we are fixing them. â€œThe bearing has already been fixed there (pointing); what is on top this iron is the jack that we used in lifting the deck of the bridge up, then we now put the bearings on top of the piers. â€œThat bearing is like the pad that is carrying the load,â€ he said. He said that the new bearings would be covered with concrete, assuring that the bridge would be completed and reopened to traffic before the end of October.
Ongoing rehabilitation of the Eko Bridge in Lagos on Wednesday (NAN Photo) NAN reports that the Federal Government on March 10 shut the Alaka Bridge linking Eko Bridge in Lagos for emergency repairs to prevent its total collapse. Officials from both Lagos State and Federal Ministry of Works and their Transportation counterparts converged on the bridge at about 9:15 p.m. to take an immediate decision for the closure of the threatened bridge.
Thereafter, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu inspected the bridge after an early morning news briefing to usher in emergency rehabilitation of the bridge. However, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed importation of components needed for the repairs.
Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/20...
NIS introduces new visa fees - THE GUARDIAN
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), has introduced new visa fees for all countries which takes effect from the first of October 2020.
Comptroller General of Immigration, Muhammad Babandede said the new visa fee is in line with the new visa policy 2020 signed in February by President Muhammadu Buhari and wand varies for countries and the category of visa.
In a communique signed by the public relations officer of the service, Sunday James, the NIS said each countryâ€™s visa fee is determined by the policy of reciprocity, and the fees were approved by the minister of interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
â€œThe Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, wishes to inform the general public and the international community of the new visa fees approved by the Honorable Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Raâ€™uf Aregbesola, which is based on the principles of reciprocity.â€
Canada denying Nigerians visas unfairly: What Nigeria intends to do - P.M.NEWS
By Harrison Arubu
Nigeriaâ€™s High Commissioner to Canada, Amb. Adeyinka Asekun said the host country is unfairly denying a lot of Nigerians visas including students.
Asekun stated this during a webinar on Nigeriaâ€™s 60th Independence Anniversary organized by the mission on Thursday evening.
He expressed the hope that the issue would be addressed in the draft bilateral agreement, which both countries have been working on, for better treatment of Nigerians in that regard.
â€œCanada and Nigeria have for some time been working on a draft agreement that addresses a number of areas of mutual concern to both countries.
â€œIt is our further hope that a video conference call may be set up next spring latest to finalise the terms of this agreement.
â€œWhat is most important about this agreement is that it is likely to address a situation in which a lot of Nigerian citizens are being denied visas when they should actually have been granted the visas.
â€œWe are looking for a situation in which the process will become much fairer and much more predictable.
â€œAnd there are provisions in this agreement which will make it possible for us to get much better treatment,â€ he said.
The envoy said many Nigerians were eager to study in Canada, but were denied the opportunity, adding that he hoped the situation would change when the agreement came into effect.
However, Asekun said Nigeria and Canada have shared a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relation in various areas since the formerâ€™s Independence in 1960.
He acknowledged the Canadian governmentâ€™s assistance to Nigeria, including its contribution to the establishment of a laboratory in Lagos in 2014 for effective management of infectious disease following the Ebola outbreak.
The facility, according to him, has greatly helped Nigeria in the management and containment of COVID.
On Nigeriaâ€™s Independence, the ambassador said the country is â€œdestined to go the distance and stand the test of timeâ€.
â€œThe theme of our anniversary at 60 is â€˜60 Togetherâ€™.
â€œIt emphasises the importance of our unity in diversity, which is a potential source of great strength and must continue to be built upon. Only we can do that,â€ he stated.
Mr Rob Oliphant, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said his country was host to no fewer than 11,000 Nigerian students.
In a goodwill message on behalf of the minister, Oliphant also highlighted the strong relationship between Nigerian and Canada.
However, he did not speak on the visa issue mentioned by the ambassador.
His words: â€œThe strong relationship between Canada and Nigeria is built on deep people-to-people ties.
â€œOver 50,000 Canadians have Nigerian roots, some of them are my very good personal friends, and today over 11,000 Nigerian students are pursuing their studies in Canada.
â€œThey enrich Canadian universities. Of course, they benefit from Canadian universities, but the benefit they bring to Canada is equal and extremely important.
â€œLimited air travel does not weaken these important personal ties. In fact, it keeps us keenly looking forward to even more connection and reconnection.
â€œOn that note, let me again offer my personal heartfelt congratulations.
â€œOn behalf of the government of Canada, I wish Nigeria and its people a very happy 60th anniversary of independence. May God bless you all.â€
The event featured goodwill messages from prominent Nigerians in Canada, a documentary on Nigeria and a music interlude, cutting of the anniversary cake, among others.
Judge temporarily lifts US visa ban on foreign workers - DAILY POST
United States District Judge, Jeffrey White, has temporarily lifted United States visa ban on a large number of work permits.
After the COVID-19 outbreak, President Donald Trump administration announced the ban to limit legal immigration.
The ruling delivered in Oakland, California, favours members of organizations that sued the federal government.
They include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, National Retail Federation, TechNet, a technology industry group, and Intrax Inc.
White said his order didnâ€™t extend beyond the groups comprised of â€œhundreds of thousands of American businesses of all sizes from a cross-section of economic sectors.â€
â€œThere must be some measure of constraint on Presidential authority in the domestic sphere in order not to render the executive an entirely monarchical power in the immigration context, an area within clear legislative prerogativeâ€, White wrote.
An attorney for the associations, Paul Hughes, said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce alone has â€œmore than 300,000 members of all shapes and sizes across the United States.â€
The ban, from June to December 2020, will remain lifted while the case is being litigated.
It affected H-1B visas, used by American and Indian technology companies; H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal workers; J visas for cultural exchanges; and L visas for managers and other key employees of multinational corporations.
On Tuesday, White stopped fee increases for citizenship and other benefits three days before start date.
27,000 entered Nigeria through Lagos, Abuja airports, says PTF - THE NATION
The Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 said on Thursday in Abuja that since it inaugurated the International Travel Portal about four weeks ago, over 27,000 passengers have entered into the country through the Lagos and Abuja airports.
Coordinator of the PTF on COVID-19 Dr. Sani Aliyu, who spoke at an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), explained that it was a huge operation, with 18,000 coming through Lagos and just a little over 9,000 through Abuja.
â€œOf the 27,000 plus passengers, 99.8 per cent had a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result. The majority, specifically 85 per cent, had no issues with payment on the portal. Of the 15 per cent who had issues, 12 per cent had their issues resolved on arrival.
â€œIt is correct to say that of the 27,000, the majority seamlessly went through the registration, entry, and re-testing process.
â€œHowever, with an operation of this scope and scale, there are bound to be issues that will arise; this is an IT system. Itâ€™s not perfect; we are humans, talk less of computers,â€ he explained.
Aliyu said the Travel Portal was still relatively new.
â€œWe didnâ€™t try out the portal but we immediately implemented it because of the pressure for reopening the international airports. Without the travel portal, we would still be struggling to reopen airports safely,â€ he said.
The coordinator said the PTF have been working collaboratively with public and private sector partners to address the issues and challenges as they arise.
â€œWe are aware of a particular case of a traveller who had been charged multiple times for his PCR test on arrival to Nigeria from Sweden. The online platform failed to record his payment for the re-test in Nigeria due to technical difficulties. As soon as the PTF was aware of his unfortunate experience, we immediately began investigating to resolve the issue. I am happy to state that the person has been refunded all the extra money he paid. In fact, he was paid the same evening we got that information, and the process is now being fine-tuned to prevent such occurrences,â€ he stated.
Aliyu said that the PTF do sympathised with the frustration travellers have to go through when the system malfunctions or when they experience these challenges.
â€˜Why Fewer Nigerians are Returning Homeâ€™ - THISDAY
BY Chinedu Eze
Reports have indicated that many more Nigerians would have returned to the country since resumption of international flights on September 5, 2020 if not for restrictive Covid-19 protocols and high airfares.
Shortly before international flights resumed, the federal government had stopped evacuation of Nigerians abroad but there were still many Nigerians stranded overseas. Many of them have been struggling to return home but cannot pay the cost of airfares, which have risen due to the extra cost required for Covid-19 tests.
The Regional Manager, South West, Murtala Muhammed International (MMIA), Lagos, Mrs. Victoria Shin-Aba told THISDAY that the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is still bringing stranded Nigerians from the Middle East country, using the low cost carrier, Fly Dubai.
Shin-Aba said late last week Fly Dubai brought in some Nigerians from UAE and the airline would operate three or four more flights to Lagos to bring in more stranded Nigerians. â€œUAE has been bringing in stranded Nigerians from Dubai and there will be three or four more flights by the airline into the country. Fly Dubai brought back Nigerians last Thursday or Friday,â€ she said.
But while many potential air travellers are still wary about boarding flights, airlines cannot use low fares to attract them because they are hamstrung by the high cost of PCR tests for Covid-19, which some countries, including Nigeria charge outrageous and with the attendant cumbersome protocol.
A country manager of one of the foreign carriers that operate into the country told THISDAY that the cost of Covid-19 tests, coupled with new airport charges by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has made air travel very expensive that anyone not on essential travel may not want to pay such outrageous fares.
For example, the cost of travelling to Ghana from Nigeria for a return flight has significantly increased from the pre-Covid-19 era of about $300 to over $800, as Nigeria charges about N100, 800 for return Covid -19 tests, while Ghana charges about $240, when added to air fares, airport charges and insurance, a passenger could pay the aforementioned sum of money for a flight of about 35 minutes.
In addition to the above problem, passengers have confirmed alleged scam going on with Covid-19 tests, where payments were made in the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) approved portal but some of the monies are not reflected as payments made, thus putting the passengers in a quandary. Also laboratories and hospitals are alleged to device ways to make those who intend to travel pay more for the tests. A Nigerian who returned from Sweden has narrated how he was allegedly made to pay N42, 300 three times for Covid-19 tests without acknowledgement of the payment made, while a family that wanted to travel out of the country went to do the test and thereafter all members of the family were said to be positive. The hospital collected more money from them for treatment, but when they decided to go for another tests in a different facility, results came out and everyone was negative.
Findings showed that some of the designated hospitals by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) no longer conduct the tests for departing or arriving passengers. Also, while the federal government may have denied collection of money from travellers for the test to be conducted, investigations have shown that each traveller pay the sum of N50,450 to the bank account of NCDC through its portal: nitp.ncdc.gov.ng/onboarding/homepage.
One of the affected passengers and a Nigerian, Mrs. Adetokunbo Oshifowora, disclosed to the media that she filled the Covid-19 test form online through the NCDC portal from her base in United Kingdom and paid the sum of N50, 450 to the Sterling Bank account of the NCDC and her payment was confirmed by the agency.
According to her, she was given Lagos State BioBank for her to conduct the test seven days after arriving the country, but surprisingly, when she called the hospital for the test to be carried out, she was told they had suspended Covid-19 tests for arriving and departing passengers. When she enquired further about the sum she paid for the test purpose, she was directed to NCDC for further clarification.
She lamented that all efforts to conduct the test or retrieved her money had proved abortive. Some Nigerians who spoke to THISDAY also confirmed that Covid-19 test was administered on them at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), but two weeks after the result was not sent to them. â€œI went to the Lagos office at Yaba and did the test but two weeks after I am yet to get the result. I have gone there three more times and they told me their server was down,â€ one of the Nigerians who identified himself as Stephen, told THISDAY.
Hajj savings scheme to cushion effect of Saudi Arabiaâ€™s VAT hike, says NAHCON - THE GUARDIAN
The National Hajj Commission (NAHCONâ€™s) has been traversing the country to show support for Hajj Savings Scheme and Hajj Training Institute. The Commission is pivoting a strategy that will enable intending pilgrims plan for Hajj through gradual savings.
The Chief Executive Officer, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, explained that Nigeria has not been able to utilize it 95,000 hajj allocations due to the escalating hajj fare that is unavoidably hinged on the dollar exchange rate. He expressed worries that COVID-19 would also worsen the situation.
â€œThis gloomy reality is foreseeable from Saudi Arabiaâ€™s triple VAT hike from five percent to 15 percent. The alarm is also loud from extra COVID-19 measures that will definitely be put in place for sake of safe Hajj. Besides, the present dollar exchange rate has killed the option of reducing Hajj fare unless a total reversal occurs.
â€œTo make matters worse, NAHCON has set a path for its financial autonomy and there is no going back. The commission understands the financial burden already on the federal government, therefore is determined not to add to it. This self-reliance was obtained 100 percent in the last Hajj where NAHCON ran its offshore assignment solely without the government sinking one Naira into the operationâ€.
â€œWith these pointers, NAHCONâ€™s strategy in mitigating further dwindling of hujjaj numbers from Nigeria is to make hajj affordable to all, regardless of oneâ€™s financial status. Thus the Commissionâ€™s drive to make the Hajj Savings Scheme a reality.
â€œWith the scheme, self sponsorship is a given, financial autonomy is a done deal while affordability of the fare arises from gradual deposits albeit investment that will yield profit that will hopefully reduce the amount that will be needed to complete oneâ€™s hajj fare. The practice has yielded fruits in Malaysia and other countries; with their support and blessings, it will not be different in Nigeria,â€ he stated.
The Emir of Muri, Alhaji Abbas Njidda Tafida, said that the government has no business sponsoring Nigerians for pilgrimage. He condemned people who wait for the government to dish out hajj seats to them in order to discharge a religious obligation. The monarch advised NAHCON to promote skills acquisition with the same energy.