Senior Vice President of IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil

Vice President of policy think-tank, IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil, has called for review of the contractual agreement between the Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) and Frontiers Health Services Limited, the firm responsible for Covid-19 testing at the Kotoka International Airport.

In his view, the contract is an avenue created for a group of people to benefit at the expense of the nation.

“Someone must justify why we should outsource this the way we have done because it’s a huge benefit to those people and clearly a disparity in benefit to the country,” he said.

He made the comments, Saturday, on JoyNews’ Newsfile, following a disclosure that the ongoing Covid-19 testing at the airport has yielded in excess of USD$ 17million, but only $1million has accrued to Ghana.

On September 1, 2020, a contract was signed between GACL and Frontier Healthcare Services to undertake Covid-19 antigen tests at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).

This was after the government of Ghana implemented a policy that required all passengers arriving at KIA to be tested for coronavirus at a fee of 150 dollars and 150 dollars for those departing from Ghana. The price was subsequently reduced to USD$ 50 for nationals of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). 

The two-year contract grants Frontier Healthcare Services the exclusive right to provide mandatory Covid-19 testing on passengers.

Out of the amount charged at the airport, Frontier Health Services, as part of its contract is to pay GACL an amount of $10 per passenger out of the $150 charged. This was indicated by Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman Manu, during his vetting in February this year. The $10 is to cover the cost of rent at the airport and was payable to GACL daily.

Speaking on Newsfile, Saturday, Kofi Bentil questioned the cost of the mandatory Covid-19 PCR test at the airport.

Mr Bentil, who was appalled by the situation, said government officials, over the years, have taken advantage of crisis situations to benefit from the state.

He said there was no justification for the pricing, adding that, “the fact that the fee charged for the Covid-19 test was reduced makes it clear that the initial cost was arbitrary.”

“The whole system must be reviewed, including the contract. Questions have been raised about the efficacy of the test and if they are actually using the right test,” he said.

Kwame Asiedu Sarpong, a Pharmacist and Fellow of CDD-Ghana, who also spoke on the Show shared a similar opinion. He was also baffled by the fact that the company was benefitting more from the contract.

“I will be disingenuous if I said I can understand why the country is making such a low return from this contract. This brings into question the bigger issues of how we have conducted our Covid-19 contractual arrangements. It’s gone well, but we need to look into it to find out what we can learn from this so that moving forward, if we have to go into such contractual arrangements, we learn,” he said.