Stranded Sarawakians finally homebound from Nigeria

The group of Sarawakians who werr stuck in Nigeria for months take a wefie as they get ready to board their homebound flight. Photo courtesy of Dr Sim Kui Hian.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, June 23: Over 20 Sarawakians who were stranded in Nigeria for months following a Covid-19 lockdown that also suspended all flights across the globe, are on their way home via Dubai.

High Commissioner of Malaysia to the Federal Republic of Nigeria HE Gloria Corina Peter Tiwet headed the mission to bring the Sarawakians home.

Minister for Local Government and Housing Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian shared photos on his Facebook page of the Sarawakians whose joy was apparent even behind their protective face masks.

“Welcome home” was Dr Sim’s message to the homebound Sarawakians as he wished them a safe flight and quarantine process upon their expected arrival in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow (June 24).

“Thank you so much to High Commissioner of Malaysia to Nigeria headed by our fellow Sarawakian HE Madam Gloria Corina Peter Tiwet (for) helping our fellow Sarawakians (more than 20, mostly (in the) oil and gas (industry) stranded in Nigeria during Covid-19 home via Dubai,” he wrote.

Sarawakians stranded in Nigeria for months in high spirits as they finally embark for home. Photo courtesy of Dr Sim Kui Hian.

Meanwhile, DayakDaily had earlier reported that the Malaysian High Commission had made flight arrangements for the Sarawakians to depart from Lagos to Dubai on June 22.

While not all Malaysians were able to board the same flight home due to their locality and sudden flight arrangements, Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives and Santubong MP Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar however said that the Malaysian High Commission was looking into arranging for another flight on June 25 to bring the remaining Malaysians home.

Their plight was thrust under the spotlight on June 2 after a Sarawakian from Kuching, Malcolm Goh, sent out a desperate SOS through his Facebook account seeking repatriation from Lagos, Nigeria.

Goh’s message caught the attention of Dr Sim who then intervened by requesting Putrajaya to arrange for an evacuation flight for the stranded Malaysians.

While arrangements were made for 30 Malaysians to board a flight on May 31, the attempt failed as the Malaysian High Commission in Nigeria could not get approval from the government of Nigeria.

Since then, both the Sarawak and federal governments had immediately acted to negotiate with the Nigerian government and come up with a solution to bring the Malaysians home. — DayakDaily