A testing center belonging to a presidential adviser has been established as the only certified lab to provide passengers with the UAE-required pre-travel testing. It is located at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, and watchdog organizations are questioning the legality of the contract that has been awarded to the firm.
A document seen by TOLOnews shows that officials at Hamid Karzai International Airport have asked airline companies to require that passengers en route to Arab nations should only accept results of the required tests from the center known as City Laboratory, which is owned by President Ghani’s adviser for health affairs.
Khadija Amin, a passenger who traveled to Dubai some weeks ago, said she had results of tests from one of the private testing centers in Kabul, but airport officials insisted that only City Laboratory tests would be accepted.
“When tests from all hospitals are not going to be credible, they should close other testing centers or they should allow them to conduct such tests (for passengers),” said Khadija Amin, a journalist.
According to a presidential decree, a copy of which was seen by TOLOnews, Kabul-based testing center City Laboratory is owned by Rezwan Ahmadi, President Ghani’s adviser.
“The G42 (UAE firm) wanted a partner in Afghanistan and we were in the top ranking. We were contacted and went to Abu Dhabi and signed the contract with G42, not with the Afghan government,” Ahmadi said.
According to the document, officials at the airport have given the testing center the responsibility to check passengers traveling to the UAE for their pre-travel COVID-19 tests.
“The civil aviation authority told the directorate of the airport to facilitate a place for their activity,” said Ahmad Jawed Shefaee, a monitoring officer at the airport.
“Individuals can have tests in other testing centers that have a license from the Ministry of Public Health for traveling anywhere except the UAE,” said Dastgir Nazari, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health.
Some watchdog organizations questioned the legality of the awarding of the contract “in the absence of a bidding process.”
The head of the complaints commission of the Parliament, Sadiq Qari, said that the decision by the Presidential Palace is a violation of the law.
“There isn’t monopolization of business called for in the Constitution, particularly in the health sector. They want to monopolize it and they made the decision based on a letter from the UAE and processed in a way that involves the Administrative Office of the President,” Qaderi said.
The letters sent by the civil aviation authority mention that the decision was made after complaints by the UAE when they found a large number of passengers with positive tests.