Mandatory COVID-19 testing for in-coming and out-going passengers at Entebbe International Airport has raised concerns among stakeholders, due to high costs associated with the process, among other reasons.
The government of Uganda, through the ministry of Health and Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), instituted compulsory testing for in-coming and out-going passengers in a bid to stop the importation of COVID-19 which until now has left many economic sectors closed.
In the process that kick off on October 22nd, 2021, in-coming passengers pay USD.30 for a PCR test, while out-going passengers are charged Shs.250, 000.
Philippe Breul, the founding member of PHB development Uganda took to his Linked inn account and urged all in-coming travellers to desist travelling to Uganda via Entebbe International Airport, due to procedural delays and challenges.
“Don’t come to Uganda via the airport! People waiting all night to receive their COVID-19 test at the airport!” he posted.
Worse still, Ugandans have decried a huge amount of money charged for the process. Shs.250000 charged on Ugandans intending to travel seem to be an exorbitant fee, according to many, given the fact that there is bankruptcy among people, precipitated by the recession caused by the COVID-19 restrictions.
A concerned citizen who never wanted to be disclosed decried the health ministry’s move to collect Shs.250,000 from passengers, in a country he said is inhabited by economic strained individuals due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Why ask for Shs. 250,000 from Ugandans…..in a very poor economy where one feeds on less than a dollar per day? This is the suffocation of the economy at the expense of self-enrichment by officials who have decided to drive the country to where they want….very terrible,” he wondered.
The government also installed COVID-19 laboratories at the airport to facilitate this kind of arrangement even if they possess vaccination certificates or not.
Before anyone is allowed to board the aircraft, they are required to first present a negative COVID-19 certificate, obtained within 72 hours of sample collection. Besides, before departure from their countries of origin to Uganda, passengers are required to pay USD 30 online for a PCR test to be conducted on arrival at the airport.
On arrival, incoming passengers wait for a period of two hours before getting their final PCR test results after sample collection.
Passengers are notified of their fate through SMS’s, or WhatsApp after taking samples.
Those with negative results are allowed to leave the holding area, to their final destinations. Positive ones are isolated and taken for treatment at government or private facilities for 7 days.
High costs for a test have left many stakeholders dissatisfied and speculating. Carrying out this process by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority and health ministry seems to be a formidable task and has raised sincere concern, among stakeholders and passengers.
According to various stakeholders, is due to an increase in the number of passengers intending to leave the country and those entering, which causes long queues, due to the fact that the ministry has a limited number of personnel to operate this process, causing delays.
Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the senior Public Relations Officer in the health ministry in Twitter acknowledged that the process is being hampered by delays in execution.
“We are working around the clock to address delays in the process at Entebbe International airport. The mandatory COVID-19 testing for in-coming travellers started today morning. We welcome all feedback from incoming travellers,” he tweeted.
The introduction of a private company named “Test and Fly” to oversee this process has also caused an uproar among critical Ugandans and It is estimated that a total of Shs.50 million is collected daily from this process.