Stranded Saudi returnees, struggle for tickets continues
32 denied for not having Covid-19 certificates from designated centers
Staff Reporter :
Stranded Saudi Arabia expatriates continue to struggle in front of the office of Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Airlines in the capital for their air tickets to join their work places in the oil-rich gulf nation.
Hundreds of expatriate workers gathered outside the Biman office yesterday morning, though the Saudi Airlines authorities ordered to issue tickets to the token-holders only.
This angered the agitators and created chaos.
The expats, who are struggling to buy their return tickets, alleged that some are paying extra money for tickets and the tickets are being issued without any discipline.
Those who bought return tickets for Saudi Arabia while coming to Bangladesh said the Saudi Airlines are giving priorities to the token-holders only without paying heed to them. The token is being given to those who have money. So, what is the benefit of buying advanced return tickets?
Meanwhile, Tarik A Alowaidi, Country Manager of Saudi Arabian Airlines has assured the expatriates about their return to Saudi Arabia and said all the stranded Bangladeshi expatriate workers will be able to return to their workplaces in Saudi Arabia
and they need not to be worried about it.
"Of course, all the Bangladeshi workers waiting to return to their workplaces in the Kingdom will be able to reach there," he said, adding that they were trying their best to find a quick solution.
He said Bangladeshi expatriate workers who are holding valid visas, exit and re-entry visas and work visas will be allowed to enter the Kingdom where they will have to undergo a PCR test within 48 hours of their arrival.
"If the requirements are met, there should be no more problem and we have already operated a few flights carrying passengers back to the Kingdom and those were successful."
On the other hand, Getting Covid-19 certificates is new worry for Saudi expatriates.
A passenger arriving in Saudi Arabia must present a negative Covid-19 certificate obtained within 48 hours prior to their entry into the country.
Arif Hossain, a Saudi migrant worker said on Saturday afternoon, "My flight is at 5.30 pm but I have not got my Covid-19 certificate yet."
He said, "I came to Dhaka last Saturday. After struggle for tickets in front of the airline's office for a few days, I got a ticket at 4pm on Thursday.
"But in order to go to Saudi Arabia you have to take a Covid-19 test 48 hours before arrival there.
"So, I rushed to the Mohakhali centre, where samples are collected from passengers bound for foreign countries, soon after I got the ticket. But there I was told that the time for sample collection was up for the day and that I would have to go there the next morning."
Arif said he along with his fellow passengers lined up for the testing on Friday morning. Then they gave their samples. But they did not get any certificate or message on their mobile phones regarding the test result until 6pm on the day.
They were extremely worried as they had been asked to report to the airport three to four hours before departure time.
The Saudi Airlines has suspended 32 expatriates flights showing causes that they did not complete their covid-19 test with government authorized testing centres.
However, all 32 Saudi-bound Bangladeshi passengers left Dhaka on flight SV-802 of Saudi Airlines on early Saturday.