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Many stranded, visas expire as Nigeria, UAE keep mum over flight ban

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TRAVELLERS have been left stranded with little or no communication as flights between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) remain suspended since March 17 over dispute relating to Covid-19 testing.

The UAE had imposed antigens rapid test on travellers from 58 countries, including Nigeria, but the Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika said there was no basis for the test as it was devoid of any scientific backing. The Nigerian government thereafter suspended flights between both countries.

On March 24, the UAE rescinded its position but stated it would only allow a maximum of 200 passengers with direct flights from Nigeria, who had negative PCR test certificates conducted 48 hours before boarding over a period of two weeks.

Expectations that the rift would soon be resolved soared after the UAE shifted grounds, but both parties have kept mum about ongoing talks, leaving travellers stranded and frustrated.

READ ALSOWhy flights between Nigeria and the UAE may resume soon

Some Nigerians living and working in the UAE came to vacation in Nigeria shortly before the flight ban and have been unable to return to their jobs. Some have also complained about their visas getting expired and called for a quick resolution to the situation.

A Twitter user with the handle @HopeisPotential wrote: “Please help… we are yet to get any update regarding the Nigeria and UAE flight suspension, jobs are at stake, funds have been lost, we need your help. Please end the suspension of flights between the two countries”.

Another user @tayo_temi, expressing her frustration, said: “Do you even realize your silence on the flight ban between the UAE and Nigeria is disastrous for Nigerians home and in UAE?”.

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Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority Musa Nuhu, while addressing the issue during a press conference on Monday April 26, said extensive deliberations had taken place and both parties had reached a compromise.

Nuhu gave the assurance that an update would be provided within 48 hours.

“The gap has been significantly closed between the position of Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They have met some of our requirements, we’re just waiting for one confirmation. Very shortly, announcement would be made on the outcome, hopefully within 48 hours,” Nuhu said.

However, it has been nearly two weeks since that assurance was given and there has been no additional official communication, leaving the public in the dark.

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