300 fliers from Dubai claim they were made to wait at Mumbai airport for 10 hoursUpdated: Jul 14, 2020 01:50 IST
More than 300 Indians who landed in Mumbai from Dubai on an Emirates flight on Monday morning went through a harrowing experience after they were made to wait at the airport for around 10 hours .
The flight landed at the city airport around 8am, but passengers were first made to wait inside the aircraft for around three hours and then made to sit in a room for around four hours without being given any reason. The fliers claimed they were later made to stand in a queue for immigration and other formalities for long and were able to leave for a Vashi hotel only by around 6pm. After they deboarded, they were not given any food at the airport, the passengers claimed. At night, the passengers were taken to a Thane hotel after many of them claimed that the hotel rooms were exorbitantly priced.
Thane resident Anish Rane, who was stranded in Dubai for three months, said, “The crew made us wait inside the aircraft till around 11.15am stating that health officials were not available to conduct the mandatory tests. However, even after we de-boarded none of us were screened and entered the airport without any test.”
An Airport Health Organisation (APHO) official said after passengers deboard, they go to the screening counter where the body temperature is automatically recorded and displayed on the monitors with the help of thermal cameras. “We no longer follow the earlier system of screening passengers with handheld thermometers. Once a passenger arrives at the screening counter, they submit their self-reporting forms (a copy of which is stamped and given back to passengers) and proceed for immigration formalities,” he said, adding that to prevent crowding at the counters, airlines make passengers wait inside the aircraft.
Passengers said after the immigration, they were asked if any of them was feeling unwell or uneasy. They claimed that officials did not ensure that social distancing norms were followed in the queue for immigration and while the police completed their quarantine-related formalities.
“Passengers were brushing against each other while standing in the queue, thereby increasing the risk of getting infected by Covid-19. I was tested negative for the virus before leaving from Dubai but how can we be sure about our safety if we come in close proximity with others who may have been infected?” said a passenger, who did not wish to be named.
Khargar resident Aafaque Sheikh said the passengers received breakfast during the flight and were provided with water at the airport but . Sheikh said even after they left the airport, they were not given any clarity on where they would be quarantined.
”They took us to a hotel on a state transport bus and charged us ₹320 for it. We were not given the option of choosing a hotel of our choice. There was no official on my bus and passengers could have fled,” he added.
Additional municipal commissioner P Velarusu said that passengers are informed of bearing their own expenses when they book their travel. “It is only in exceptional cases [in case the fliers are labour class passengers] that we take the passengers to government hospitals. If a passenger hails from Thane or any other district then the decision of allotting them a hotel for their institutional quarantine is taken by their respective district collector,” he said.