Airline operators at the Dubai International Airport have prevented Nigerians from boarding flights to the country without paying 500 dirhams for a repeat COVID-19 test.

A source told SaharaReporters that the operators said they were acting on instructions from Nigeria.Emirati officials had in August revoked previously issued visas to Nigerians and failed to renew the documents of others.

The Emirate had ordered that they leave the kingdom on Thursday September 10.

Several Nigerians, who tried to board return flights say the airline operators are mandating them to pay N50,964 for a COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction test on instruction from Nigeria.

This is in contravention of a directive from the Nigeria centre for Disease control stating that if the payment cannot be made online before travel, it should be paid on arrival.

“They are asking those who intend to board to pay 500 dirhams (N52,219 according to currency converter) before they can be allowed to get into the aircraft,” the source said.

“In some parts of the UAE, the tests are free, in other parts it is the equivalent of N25,000.

According to him, the PCR test is a repeat test to be done in Nigeria.

Those, who intend to board had already presented a negative COVID-19 result 96 hours before the scheduled departure date.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority had said in the travel memo that passengers should present a negative PCR test before boarding.

“As part of efforts to resolve payment challenges, as an interim measure, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority has notified all international passengers to Nigeria can board if they have a valid COVID-19 negative PCR result.

“Passengers who are unable to complete online payment for the COVID-19 repeat test required, will pay on arrival in Nigeria,” the travel advice said.

Since the UAE moved to send Nigerians out of the country, the Federal Government has been silent on the development.

On March 1 2020, the Emirati Government announced that all expatriates in the UAE holding a residency visa, visit visa or mission visa could stay within the UAE on their current visa until the end of December 2020.

On July 11, however, the UAE authority revised its order, asking different class of expatriates and visa holders to immediately change their status or renew their visas.

Nigerians, who tried to renew their visas, or whose employers tried to update their status, had their requests denied.

Several of them affected told SaharaReporters that immigration officials in the Emirate failed to give them a reason.

Nigerian Embassy staff in the UAE were not available for comments.

Source : Saharareporters