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RT PCR labs yet to be set up at int’l airports

PM’s directive goes unheeded

  • Rajib Kanti Roy
  • 15 September, 2021 12:00 AM
  • Print news

The authorities concerned are yet to set up RT PCR labs at the international airports for conducting Covid-19 test although Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave a directive in this regard a week ago.

Sources say that the authorities have not taken any visible step yet to set up RT PCR labs at the airports due to selection of a single company for the job without considering the proposals of other companies. 

Experts alleged that the whole situation has pushed the government into an embarrassing situation when the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-bound expatriates are waiting for long to return to the work places.

Meanwhile, Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed said his ministry, along with some other ministries and departments, has been trying their level best to resolve the problem.

“We’ll take a final decision on setting up PCR labs at international airports soon. Seven companies have been taken into consideration for the job. We’ll select one or more than one companies out of the seven,” he said.

“Everything will be finalised by the high-level technical committee of the health ministry. Taking decision will depend on how much samples a company can collect, how fast it will be able to provide test results and how low the cost will be,” the minister added.

According to sources at the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, selecting a particular company without considering the proposals of others have hindered the whole process.

“The government wanted to set up RT-PCR labs at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport as soon as possible for the UAE-bound passengers. A private company named DMFR Molecular Lab and Diagnostics had been selected to conduct the corona test but the decision was later deferred due to some dubious attitudes of the company,” a source said.

According to media reports, Professor Dr Deen Muhammad, former Director General of  Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), is the founder of DMFR Molecular Lab and Diagnostics. He later sold his shares.

The company’s current managing director is Faizur Rahman. The company applied to the Secretary of the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment for setting up a RT-PCR lab at airports on August 29, a source confirmed. The UAE Embassy in Dhaka sent a letter to the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) recommending the name of the company on August 31, the source added.

The letter having no signature of any embassy official, said the DMFR had link to an organisation called LifeDX, which is approved by the UAE Department of Health. There are also various inconsistencies in its application.

Besides, DMFR Molecular Lab and Diagnostics initially offered to conduct test at Tk 1,700, but when the company came to relies that they may get the work, they increased the fees by another Tk 1,000.

Due to all these inconsistent activities of the company, the ministries concerned have been compelled to reassess the whole process and consider the offers of 7-8 other companies who offered to do the job at Tk 2,200, according to a source.

Meanwhile, CAAB approved the idea of setting up a RT PCR lab in the car parking yard on the second floor of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on a temporary basis.

Director of Shahjalal airport Group Captain AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan said, “We are ready to provide them with space. Everything will depend on other ministries. We’ll only look after the process.”

According to a source, the whole responsibility of setting up of an RT PCR lab at Shahjalal airport has been given to the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment.

DGHS spokesperson Professor Dr Nazmul Islam said, “The Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment invited tenders for installation of RT-PCR machines where 20-22 companies applied for the job. The opinion of the technical committee of the DGHS was sought to review the capacity of the companies.”

“The technical committee, headed by the Director General of the DGHS, reviewed the documents of the applicants and sent the opinion back to the Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment ministry on Monday,” he added.