Chadian customs have refused to release a consignment of protective material against COVID-19 donated to the country by the Arab Republic of Egypt.
The materials which were scheduled to have been officially received by the country’s health authorities on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, are holed-up in Hassan Djamouss International Airport, N’Djamena.
A senior customs official, who elected for anonymity because he is not the official spokesperson of the Customs Department, said the customs were holding the material because “…these materials are not exempted from customs duty so the duty must be paid first before they are removed from the airport.”
The equipment include 200 protective overalls, 20,000 medical face masks, two tonnes of hydrochlorate of concentrated sodium at 12 per cent, oxide hydrogen concentrate at 6.5 per cent, 10,000 gels in boxes of 125 millilitres and 9,000 gels in 150 millilitres.
The equipment had earlier been officially received at the airport by the Assistant Director-General in the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Mahamat Hamid Ahmat, from the Egyptian Ambassador to Chad, Mr Amr Rifai, but were eventually blocked from leaving the airport by the customs.
A source at the Ministry of Public Health in N’Djamena told HumAngle on Tuesday evening that “…despite exhaustive explanations, the customs authorities have refused to budge.
“When our team went to collect the gifts, they were blocked by the customs whereas these materials are a very important assistance package from a brother country coming to our aid in the fight against this illness.”
Diplomatic circles in N’Djamena are at pains to explain this rather strange behaviour from the customs and conjecture that such attitude towards a great African nation as Egypt could not be the singular initiative of the customs alone.
“There is no way the Customs Department could resort to such embarrassing behaviour without the unction of some senior officials at the highest rungs of the nation.
“That a ceremony for the reception of the donations could have been postponed at the 11th hour could only happen with some blessings from the presidency,” an Arab diplomat who refused to be identified said.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 situation in Chad as at Tuesday, June 2, 2020, was 803 confirmed cases, 652 patients successfully treated and discharged from hospital and 66 fatalities.
There are currently 175 cases under treatment as 13 new cases were diagnosed on Tuesday.