(MENAFN- Bangladesh Monitor) Dhaka: The establishment of RT-PCR laboratories at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in the capital is still not underway even after two weeks since the Prime Minister's directive to set the labs at the airports across the country within a few days.
Two ministers on September 21 said that the rooftop of the parking lot at HSIA previously offered by CAAB for the installment of the PCR lab is not suitable. Hence, the RT-PCR lab will be shifted inside the airport temporarily.
This has left the fate of around 40,000 Bangladeshi expatriates return to their workplaces in UAE hanging in the balance ahead of visa expiration and job losses, as the Gulf nation has made it mandatory to carry out RT-PCR test before six hours of flight departure for arrivals from Bangladesh.
Earlier, the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh had offered the rooftop of the two-storied car park to the north of the main building of Dhaka Airport as the venue for Covid-19 tests of outgoing passengers.
Only three days after CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman said that the labs would be operational in three to four days, Expatriate Welfare Affairs Minister Imran Ahmad and Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the venue is not suitable on September 21.
A serious lack of coordination among the ministries and departments concerned has led to the current stagnant situation, claimed the expatriate workers waiting for a solution to return back to UAE on time.
The seven organisations chosen by the health directorate to conduct the Covid-19 tests at the airport had earlier said the same as well.
After visiting HSIA on September 21, the ministers said the labs will be temporarily shifted inside the airport.
After the ministers' visit on September 21, sources said, when necessary infrastructure is ready at the rooftop of the car park, the temporary lab facilities will be relocated there.
However, the two ministers on September 21 could not say for certain when this would be done, leaving the establishment of the PCR lab still in a limbo.
Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Ahmed Munirush Salehin, Expatriates' Welfare Secretary, the CAAB Chairman were present, among others, during the ministers' visit.
Speaking on the occasion, Imran Ahmad said the PCR lab should have been set up a week ago, but it is taking a little time due to the involvement of different ministries. Those problems have almost been solved, he added.
Regarding installation of the labs at the rooftop, Imran Ahmad said it would take around 10 days to make the rooftop prepared to set up the labs.
The lab will be set up with a steel structure on the roof of the multi-storied parking building. The place will be air-conditioned, have supply of water and electricity, but it will take a while to do it, Ahmad claimed.
The Expatriates' Welfare Minister said work inside the airport to set up labs will start within two to three days.
About setting up the lab inside the airport, CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mofidur Rahman said, the new space inside the airport is small. They may not test more than 300 people a day while 2,600 to 2,800 Bangladeshi passengers fly to the UAE every day.
Outbound passengers will be able to undergo Covid-19 tests at the RT-PCR lab booths by paying a minimum of BDT 1,700 to a maximum of BDT 2,300, according to a ministry circular issued on September 15.
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