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In Ogun state, parents reject N25,000 COVID-19 test levy for returning students

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Parents of students in private secondary schools in Ogun state have protested against the payment of N25,000 as COVID-19 test charges by each student. Graduating students are billed to resume schools on Monday ahead of their examinations.

The government had mandated each student to undergo a test as a precondition for resumption and only students certified free of COVID-19 will be allowed into the school premises.

NewsWireNGR gathered that parents alongside their wards in large numbers visited 54 gene COVID-19 Mobile Lab located within the state-owned MTR Specialist Hospital, Abeokuta, for COVID-19 tests, only to be informed of the payment of N25,000 per student.

The parents then became agitated and staged a protest against what they called monetisation of the test.

The aggrieved parents reportedly shut the gate of the hospital, as part of moves to demonstrate their grievances against the decision.

For more than six hours, they took over the premises and brought activities to a halt, preventing entry and exit into the hospital.

Speaking with journalists, one of the parents, Dr. Kehinde Sanwo who is the Vice-Chairman, Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of Taidob College, Asero, Abeokuta, said “The parents here are good citizens of Ogun State and are taxpayers. It is so disheartening that we are here at the MTR hospital, the venue for the COVID-19 test.

“When we arrived we were told to pay N25,000. Whereas, some people who arrived earlier paid nothing. So, we don’t know where the decision came from. Some of us have more than two children.”

Speaking with journalists at the venue of the test, Director of Public Health at the State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olukayode Soyinka said he was not aware of the N25,000 COVID-19 test payment on private schools students.

He said COVID-19 test before now had been free, stressing that he was just instructed by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker to make himself available at the venue to provide a conducive environment for the students.

He, however, disclosed that the test was organised by the state government in conjunction with a private laboratory company, 54gene under Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

However, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan denied what the parents called segregation, saying “It’s not segregation, but a show of magnanimity by the state government.”

He said the parents are free to approach any certified COVID-19 Lab Centre to ensure their wards get tested and cleared free of the virus.

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