South Dayi MP, Rockson Dafeamekpor

The MP for South Dayi Rockson Nelson Dafeamekpor has described as discriminatory, government’s decision and the handling of repatriation of Ghanaians abroad.

In a statement, he said it is rather “unfortunate that government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its consulates who have instituted plans to evacuate stranded Ghanaians abroad have rather created an atmosphere where those who require help to return, are rather choosing the option to remain stranded”.

Not long ago, “Government, in talks with the Nigerian government, agreed to an evacuation plan which costs between $800 and $1,000 from Abuja to Accra and between $700 and $900 from Lagos to Accra,” the legislator added.

In a notice published which was signed on or about May 29, 2020, the Ghana High Commission in Abuja proceeded to provide a limited list of four hotels whose lodging fee ranged between ¢7,700 and ¢9,800 resulting from the imposition of a compulsory 14-day quarantine.

According to the member of Parliament’s Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, there was “another similar letter titled Evacuation of stranded Ghanaians issued on Monday, June 15, 2020, by the New York Consulate General which sought to communicate to our stranded compatriots in the United States of America of the government’s plans to transport them” back to Ghana on or about June 25, 2020.

“In that letter, the Consulate announced air fees of $1,350 for Economy Class and $2,840 for Business Class in a supposed chartered flight. In addition, a restricted accommodation arrangement was made for two plush hotels in Accra which cost ¢550 and ¢650 per night with a mandatory 14-day quarantine and the possibility of an extended period of 21 days.

He said, from the above figures, any evacuee who chooses to lodge in the lowest of the two accommodation options provided, would have to cough an amount of ¢7,700 for the 14-day mandatory quarantine and in the case of an extended period of 21 days, a total accommodation fee of Ghc11,550 in addition to the airfare of between ¢8,100 ($1,350) and ¢17,040 ($2,840).

For the evacuee who opts for highest accommodation in these two options provided, he or she must be prepared to cough an amount of ¢9,100 for the 14 days mandatory quarantine and if extended for the 21 days period, an amount of ¢13,650 in addition to an airfare of between ¢8,100 ($1,350) and Ghc17,040 ($2,840).

Mr Dafeamekpor would have thought that government would be mindful that these individuals are categorised as stranded which provides that their economic conditions are completely in disarray for which many would require the help of the government to return to their homeland.

Since the closures of our borders some three months ago, many Ghanaians who found themselves outside of the country and who are not residents in these respective countries they found themselves, have suffered as a result of unbudgeted expenses which has placed a huge economic burden on them.

Since closures were announced, the Government, through the Minister for Finance, made several proposals to the House of Parliament and secured funds that were categorised for use in providing support to the most affected in our society by the outbreak of Covid-19.

The ordinary Ghanaian can immediately recall the $35 million received from the World Bank, the $1 billion rapid credit from the IMF and a whopping $1.2 billion released from the Contingency Funds to enable government make interventions in this regard.

It is also easy to recall that Ghanaians who even had the opportunity to return to Ghana in the early days of the outbreak, even though cannot be said to have suffered the huge financial burdens our current evacuees have gone through, have had to be provided accommodation, feeding and transportation to their isolation facilities free of charge and the cost borne by the state.

It makes one wonder what reasoning could have gone into the decision to impose full cost on our own compatriots who have suffered where they find themselves now since mid-March till today.

He said, government must realize its obligation to protect the lives and properties of Ghanaians.

At “this critical moment, there are reports of stranded citizens who are in dire need of government support to return to Ghana, opting to remain stranded over air fare as well as cost of quarantine which they say they cannot afford, he continued.

Mr. Defeamekpor called on Government to reconsider its decision and fashion out a plan to provide the needed support to those who are unable to afford the cost involved in returning to their motherland.

He said the inability to afford cost of air ticket should not make them non-Ghanaians.