The government will take over the rapid tests for incoming travelers landing at Entebbe International Airport effective next week, a decision has been reached by Cabinet.
The decision follows chaos emanating from private laboratories carrying out PCR tests at the airport.
According to the new decision, the cost of the new tests will be Shs 105,000 (USD $30), down from Shs230,000 (USD $65) that was being charged by private laboratories.
The statement from the cabinet indicates that the new mode of payment shall be through banks at the airport and this should be stretched to land border points.
“The arrangement to shift from private services to government laboratory at the airport shall be made within one week,” a statement from the cabinet reads.
Uganda’s government now joins Tanzania which is fully in charge of covid tests from travelers to and outside Tanzania. The costs of such tests proceed to the revenue collection body of the country.
In July, members of parliament said there was a need to investigate private labs carrying out screening and testing services on travelers at the airport.
These wanted to find out how the said companies were contracted, pay taxes, checking of quality assurance of the tests carried out, and how they account for the money they collect from the travelers among other irregularities.
Among private labs to be probed included Safari lab, Test and fly laboratory, and Case Clinic who legislators said were charging exorbitant fees in comparison for the same services at different border points.
There was fury at Entebbe Airport on Tuesday afternoon after over 100 passengers missed their flight to the United Arab Emirates after the results of their rapid Covid-19 tests arrived late.
The incident happened when a number of passengers who were supposed to fly using Emirates flight number EK730 missed the flight after results came in only 15 minutes to the time of closing the boarding gate.
Usually, the boarding gate is closed between 15 and 30 minutes before departure.
On Tuesday, by the time the Safari lab sent in the Covid-19 test results, it was late for every passenger to have finalized with verification of the results and consequently many missed their flight.