Repatriation mission: Malaysia and Nigeria govts need time to conclude arrangement

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, June 6: The Malaysian and Nigerian governments are still negotiating and finding ways how best and fast they can repatriate stranded Malaysians, including Sarawakians, from Nigeria.

Minister of Works Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof pointed out the negotiation process was still ongoing before they could conclude the arrangement to charter a flight for the mission.

“The Nigerian government is also making an effort to bring Nigerians in Malaysia back to the country. With that, a special flight can be chartered to send Nigerians back and bring Malaysians home.

“Deputy Minister of Home Affairs (Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar) updated in the special cabinet meeting today that the Malaysia High Commission in Nigeria is still making arrangements (on the matter) but it needs time,” he told DayakDaily when contacted today.

This was the latest development on the state and federal governments’ efforts to repatriate stranded Malaysians including Sarawakians in Nigeria following a desperate SOS sent out by Malcolm Goh in his Facebook post which caught the attention of Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian.

Fadillah, who is also Petra Jaya MP, explained that the employers engaging these professional Malaysians could not afford to send all 50 of them back home as it was too costly.

“To charter a single flight for 50 people is very expensive so we are working out with the Nigeria government now for the flight load to and fro which will in a way bring the cost down,” he said.

In the current unprecedented situation, he opined that the only option for the stranded Malaysians to come home fast was to try to take a commercial flight out but the problem is that the embassy and consulate general were unable to guarantee a flight available.

“There is only one flight out of Nigeria using Turkish Airlines in which they (stranded Malaysians) will need to bear the cost.

“But then again, the embassy also cannot guarantee the status of the flight as it could be cancelled and postponed.

“The whole issue is there aren’t commercial flights flying in and out so that is the challenge now,” he elaborated.

Some 30 Malaysians including 10 Sarawakians involved in the oil and gas industry are stranded in Victoria Island of Lagos, Nigeria.

Goh explained that they were stranded in Lagos for two months already following a lockdown and closure of the Lagos Airport to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic within the country’s borders.

The Malaysian group had contacted the Malaysia High Commission in Abuja for help but their efforts were not fruitful due to the closure of Lagos Airport.

Most of the Malaysian professionals have been there for months and were hoping that the Malaysian government will charter a flight to bring them back to Malaysia which is the only way they can leave the country and come home.

Meanwhile, Julau MP Larry Sng also shared the plight of at least 20 Sarawakians working in the oil and gas sector who are now stuck in Mumbai. —DayakDaily