July 20, 2024
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Covid-19 test at KIA: Frontiers Healthcare gains is a total rip off – Ablakwa

North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has described as a “total rip off” of the State, gains made by Frontiers Healthcare, the company engaged to test international travellers departing or arriving at the Kotoka International Airport for Covid-19 during the outbreak of the pandemic.

His comment follows the Ghana Airport Company Limited’s data provided to JoyNews revealing that Frontiers got a massive $84 million from arrival testing and an additional GH₵29 million ($3.5 million) from departure testing of COVID-19.

In stark contrast, Ghana received a token of less than $7 million from arrival testing and GH₵1.5 million ($180,000) from departure testing for the period that the company conducted the tests.

This disproportionate revenue distribution shows that Frontiers claimed over 90% of the earnings, retaining 92% of income from arrival testing and a significant yet 94% from departure testing.

Conversely, Ghana’s share was meagre, representing less than 10% of the total revenue, with just 7% coming from arrival testing and a mere 6% from departure testing.

The significant disparity in revenue allocation has provoked public outrage, leading Mr Ablakwa to submit a motion to parliament, calling for an impartial audit of the contentious testing agreement between Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) and Frontiers.

The revenue information was provided after GACL was slapped with a GH¢200,000 fine by the Right to Information (RTI) Commission for failing to comply with directives to provide access to information.

Speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story on Friday, Mr Ablakwa commended JoyNews for its persistence to finally get the information.

According to the Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, getting fined before releasing such information after persistent requests was not the best.

“First of all, we must condemn the conduct of officials at the Ghana Airport Company Limited, the board, the management.

“They should bow their head in shame. The Ghana Airport Company belongs to all of us, you are taking the decision on all of our behalf. If you are not proud of the decisions you take when it goes public then don’t take those decisions,” he said.

However, speaking on the same show, the Board Chair of the Ghana Airport Company, Paul Adom Otchere defended the Airport Company’s decision.

According to him, it is untrue that the company was irresponsible and not willing to release the information until it was fined.

He explained that per the RTI law, “when the information is already in the public domain, the person who is being asked for the information can refer those seeking the information to that document.”

He added “Our understanding of the matter is that the Minister of Transport has spoken about this matter not on one occasion but on two occasions before parliament. It is found in parliament’s Hansard. At the minister’s vetting before the appointment committee, these questions came up and then he dealt with them. … so the matters were in the public domain.”  

He said the Airport Company’s view was to write back to the RTI Commission clarifying that the information sought was in the public domain so if any media wants that information, it can be accessed. However, the Commission took a different view of the matter.

He added that after engaging the RTI, GACL decided to respond to JoyNews’ request by providing the information.

But JoyNews’ Raymond Acquah who interjected the conversation refuted Mr Adom Otchere’s assertion of the information being in the public domain as the response the team received.

According to Mr Acquah,  “Specifically, the response on September 19 was that it was exempt and then they proceeded to tell us some of the reasons it could not be given to us. Which includes that they were not the ones who did the testing and collection of money at the Airport.

“They didn’t say that the information was in the public domain. They also proceeded to say that  they were not privy to that particular list of reasons.”

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