Thu, 02 Dec 2021 Today's Paper

The Covid-19 Repatriation Mafia

4 February 2021 02:59 am - 8     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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I purchased my air ticket at a higher price from a person as instructed by the embassy

Outside the airport, we were locked in a bus for more than an hour

Paid Avant Garde Rs.15,000 a day for a 14-day period of quarantine at Shangri-La Hotel

Covid-19 and quarantine in Sri Lanka is a racket, a dishonest scheme to obtain fast money

No sooner, I landed in Colombo, I experienced the inefficient and abusive treatment meted out to arriving passengers.  After a long and tiresome journey, we waited at the airport for hours on end on our feet with limited toilet facilities.  Outside the airport, we were locked in a bus for more an hour

 

 

 Having experienced first-hand the loathsome treatment of repatriating Sri Lankans at paid Quarantine Centres, Fr. Tyrell J. Alles contracted Covid-19 in early January. Writing to the Daily Mirror, he says the Covid-19 pandemic is now a money-making racket, where a few gain from the misfortune of many.

 

I returned to Sri Lanka from the United States of America on October 1, 2020.  The Sri Lankan embassy in Washington, DC included me in one of their repatriation flights, for which I am grateful.  Avant Garde Security Service [PVT] Ltd., organized this repatriation.  I purchased my air ticket at a higher price from a person as instructed by the embassy.  In addition, I had to pay Avant Garde Rs.15,000 a day for a 14-day period of quarantine at Shangri-La Hotel in Hambantota.  


No sooner, I landed in Colombo, I experienced the inefficient and abusive treatment meted out to arriving passengers.  After a long and tiresome journey, we waited at the airport for hours on end on our feet with limited toilet facilities.  Outside the airport, we were locked in a bus for more an hour.  After a snail’s pace journey to Hambantota, the incompetent check-in system at the hotel lasted another couple of hours.  All this time, locked in a bus, we did not have even a drop of water to quench our thirst.  Some protested against such inhumane treatment after paying exorbitant rates for the air travel and the hotel.  The 14-day quarantine process at the Shangri-La Hotel, only added fuel to fire.  


After three negative PCR tests, I was treated like an alien, who had arrived from another planet with a virus.  Although, I am not one to complain about food, I am forced to do so.  For example, given the hotel charges, will one like to find dead worms in the food?  How will one feel when one has to repeatedly call the reception to get the basics?  How will one feel when one has to repeatedly remind the hotel about the change of linen?  I was disgusted! Thereafter, I had to quarantine at home for another 14 days subject to control freaks; the PHI and the Police, with notices on my gate terrifying the neighborhood.


 Early January, I tested positive for Covid-19.  The Ministry of Health subjected me to mandatory 14-day quarantine.  It is common knowledge that the government quarantine centres are hygienically appalling, with toilet facilities that are dreadful and the probability of catching another disease, worse than Covid-19 from such a quarantine centre was inevitable.  I was offered to be quarantined at Club Koggala Village at an exorbitant rate of Rs.12,000 a day.  Once again, the services, the food, and even the room were below standard.  During the 14 days, I did not even have a plate or cutlery, not to mention the insipid unhygienic food either to be eaten or thrown at your discretion.  


Being a diabetic, the medical team told me to request diabetic food.  My request fell on deaf ears, giving me the impression, “either you eat or die.”At both Hambantota and Koggala, the Sri Lankan Army provided transport to the hotels at a price. But I had to find transport at the end of the 14 days, as if to say, now that we have got our money, find your way back home.  Adding insult to injury, there were parasites who offer transportation at ridiculous rates, making hay while the sun shines. 


Drawing from my personal experience, Covid-19 and quarantine in Sri Lanka is a racket, a dishonest scheme to obtain fast money.  We were victims of an organized mafia.  It is evident that Avant Garde and their colleagues made their repatriation plan a money-spinner.  It is also evident that hoteliers and their collaborators have invented a new form of money-grabbing.  This skullduggery mutates faster than the virus.  Who can rescue us from this vicious circle in this paradise island which to me is far from paradise, in fact hell on earth?  


As regards the government, all we hear is its obscene arguments in parliament, a comedy show, the only entertainment that is free-of-charge.  Acting like hooligans, at each other’s throats, these unschooled idiots are hand-in-glove with those who line their pockets in the name of Covid-19.  My logical conclusion is that while many have lost their businesses and their livelihood, because of this pandemic, some others have made it a lucrative business, a mafia, a pathetic, horrendous and disgusting experience to so many others like me.  This is Covid-19 and quarantine in Sri Lanka.  


Since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the whole world is going through a crisis that has affected every aspect of human life.  The governments of different countries respond in various ways to curtail this pandemic and to provide medical assistance to its citizens.  This letter relates my experience of how Sri Lanka has responded to this crisis, especially through its quarantine programmes.  


Every baptized Christian shares in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, in his prophetic, and royal mission.  As a Catholic priest, in addition to this threefold function, I share in the ministerial priesthood of Christ.  I write this letter in response to the prophetic mission entrusted to me by my baptism and my priesthood for the service and common good of mankind. 

  Comments - 8

  • Bertram Thursday, 04 February 2021 04:24 AM

    This article is a shame a disgusting shame to sri lanka, the politicians, the health service, the police, the money making parasites and all and sundry associated with money making. There is much that can be said but it is waste of time and energy. Sri lanka will never be a blessed country and will never prosper as long as vampires live in society. The good and honest have to pay for the greed of the greedy but not for long. We will see who wins in the end.

    Seb Thursday, 04 February 2021 05:17 AM

    My experience was completely different from this. I too paid around 18K per day and had to wait a few hours before I reached the exit but from there on it has been great. Food was amazing and in such quantity that I had to skip dinner every single day as to maintain my weight. I'm very grateful I was able to travel and on the 5th I'm allowed out. My experience was nothing but good but I guess it all depends on the quarantine center/hotel.

    Ranaweera Thursday, 04 February 2021 09:00 AM

    My friend was at Army Quarantine center. He was given good food. The bathroom facilities were on sharing basis. Some people did not use the facilities properly but there was cleaning done . There were PCR tests. Some were found positive and the rest in the group had to extend the stay. The experience was not luxurious but it was much better than dying in the United Kingdom where he was living before the travel. His friend , a doctor died there as he was not given any medical attention. His friend was refused treatment at the hospital. So choose life or death.

    Chuckroh Thursday, 04 February 2021 09:37 AM

    I sympathise with the Priest and I can understand his feelings. Srilanka has gone from bad to worse since Rajapakshas took over power. Today is Independence Day. We would have been better off under British Rule.

    Ara Thursday, 04 February 2021 12:35 PM

    This is true, as usual government henchmen our given free ticket to make money

    Asanka Wednesday, 10 February 2021 05:36 PM

    @Seb, most people can not afford 18 K per day. So good healthcare is only for the rich. Poor lives matter too

    Mda Friday, 12 February 2021 02:24 PM

    People wanted a Hitler, here u go, this is how Hitler is supposed to be

    Mr. Truth Sunday, 14 February 2021 02:36 PM

    It is a fact. Sri Lanka is the only Country in the world where the own citizens need a clearance to return home and spend Rs. 200,000 at paid quarantine hotels. No clearance or quarantine required for tourists now. Truly, a land like no other....!


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