Monrovia — A longtime Liberian journalist and author James Kokulo Fasuekoi says he is taking a lawsuit against the COVID-19 Testing Center in Liberia for not giving his daughter’s COVID-19 result on time, something that caused her to miss her flight at the Roberts International Airport.
Mr. Fasuekoi, a former executive of the Association of Liberian Journalists in America (ALJA) and his daughter in a joint press interview in Monrovia termed the action from the testing center as intentional.
According to him, the failure of the staff of the COVID Testing Center to give his daughter her COVID-19 Testing reference number has caused his family to incur more than US$800 extra expenses.
“We are contemplating on a lawsuit because we have incurred all sorts of losses, embarrassment, and all of that. I should have been doing something else today but I had to forgo it and attend to this situation,” Mr. Fasuekoi said.
Younger Fasuekoi, the daughter of the longtime Liberian journalist and owner and Manager of Fazee Restaurant in the U.S. came along with her father to Liberia on a vacation. It has been exactly her 16 years since she left Liberia.
After a short stay which climaxed with a splendid birthday celebration, Younger decided to go back to America to attend to some urgent matters. She explained how she experienced her nightmare with joint securities at the RIA.
After booking her ticket with Air France, Younger went to the testing center at Sophie in Congo Town to do her COVID-19 test as required before leaving Liberia. She and her father went on the 4th of May but were told to come back the following day.
On May 5, Younger went back and did her COVID-19 test with the charged fee of US$75 – all of that was done stipulated time to avoid embarrassment, she said. After running her test, she was not given her covid-19 reference number by staff from the testing center.
Younger said she was informed by a staff of the testing center that her COVID-19 reference’s number was to be sent to their team at the airport and also could appear on her phone as a text message.
Intimidation and Humiliation
On Friday, May 7, the day for her departure, Younger tried to make her way into the terminal at the airport when she came in contact with Joint Security Officers who she said were very aggressive and not willing to understand the situation regarding her COVID-19 test result.
She said: “We were intimidated and humiliated by individuals from joint security assigned at the Roberts International Airport. One guy told me that he will make sure that I will not leave the country.”
“A guy from the COVID-19 unit at the airport told me to wait until my COVID-19 certificate appears on my phone. We stood by and time was getting close for check-in. For us who have traveled internationally we are very sensitive to checking time. I asked the young man who claims to be the head of the COVID-19 at the airport, what are we doing, how long we are going to wait before we can get the results? Why is it that we did get the result on our phone before reaching the airport which is the normal procedure or the assurance they gave us? He could not explain much to us,” Younger said.
Standing Against Bribery
At the Roberts International Airport, despite she did not get her COVID-19 result from the testing center, Younger said she went against all odds to stand against bribery. She alleged that some individuals of the COVID-19 Testing team tried to solicit a handout from her to travel without the result from the test, something she refused to engage in.
Younger said: “We disagreed to engage in bribery.”
According to her, the humiliating situation she experienced at the RIA will not deter her from coming back to Liberia as there nowhere like home.
“I will come back to Liberia. It was a wake-up call to do more. It is heartbreaking and it is very frustrating but I want to stand against this bribing, this corruption thing that is going on in Liberia,” she said.
Younger added: “If it can start with someone going through the airport where they don’t have to demand you or forcefully waste your time so you can give them money before you can pass through their security checkpoint or check-in your bag, or before they can allow you to carry certain thing in your bag, if that one change is going to start with me, I will come back to Liberia for that reason.”
Mr. Fasuekoi, her father, added: “They had lots of arguments with us and when it was time to check-in she could not go in to check because she had to have the COVID-19 thing clear. We waited and people got on the plane and she couldn’t go. We had to come back to town because we could not play miracle to get the COVID-19 result.”
The following morning, Mr. Fasuekoi and his daughter drove to the COVID-19 center to ascertain information as to why his daughter was not given her certificate after she was in line with required 48 hours for COVID-19 verification time.
“We met one Emmanuel Wiah, fair gentlemen, admitted that the error came from them. They actually blundered and he began to narrate what he was seeing on the computer was quite different from reality. The dates were all mixed-up and then they did not issue us the confirmation and reference numbers,” Mr. Fasuekoi said.