The Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) made a little over $6.4 million from the over two years Frontiers Healthcare Services operated at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) to conduct COVID-19 tests.
Frontiers Healthcare Services Limited made over US$80.6 million for the 28 months it tested passengers arriving at, and moving out of Ghana, as of December 2022. In total, Frontiers made US$87m.
This means the company received 6.8% of the revenue Frontiers generated at the Airport in addition to the US$365, 336.50 Frontiers Healthcare Services paid as ground rent and an additional GH₵45,000 (US$4, 433) as Airport Operators Registration fee for the 28 months it operated at the KIA.
The Fourth Estate used the prevailing exchange rate of GH₵ 10.15 to a dollar as of December 2022 for the conversion of the Ghana cedi equivalent contained in the document.
According to the contract, the GACL received US$10 out of the US$150 for every test conducted.
This put to bed the 3 years of the company’s refusal to provide the contractual details it had with Frontiers Healthcare Services Limited, the company handpicked to conduct COVID-19 tests at the airports in 2020.
This information was part of responses provided to The Fourth Estate by the Board Chairman of the GACL, Paul Adom-Otchere, following a Right to Information (RTI) request to the company on September 29, 2023.
This comes two weeks after the RTI Commission fined the GACL GH₵200,000.00 for failing to comply with directives to provide access to information to Accra-based JoyNews on the same contract.
The GACL had said their inability to release information on the contract award process and revenue generated from testing travellers was because the information was not in their possession, and that the information was exempted under the Right to Information Law.
Frontiers contract signed the same day it began testing at the Airport
The contract between the GACL and Frontiers Healthcare Services Limited was signed on September 1, 2020, the same day Frontiers began the compulsory testing of passengers at the KIA.
The then Managing Director of GACL, Yaw Kwakwa, signed for the company, while Dr Emmanuel Acquaye signed for Frontiers Healthcare Services Limited.
This was on the day the government opened the airport to international flights, five months after Ghana’s air and land borders had been closed as measures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
While it was a requirement, according to the Health Facilities Regulatory Act 2011(Act 829), for any operator within the health sector to be granted a license before it began operation, this was the reverse in the case of Frontiers Healthcare Services Limited. It received the license two months after it began operation at the airport.
But, the government had a justification for the lapse, insisting COVID-19 was an emergency.
The GACL also did not receive approval from the Public Procurement Authority before awarding the contract to Frontiers, contrary to the country’s procurement laws.
The company also did not have a history or experience in such tests. Critics had indicated that Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Ghana’s premier research institution, was in a better position to do the testing.
In fact, Frontiers had been incorporated just three weeks before the president’s address to reopen Ghana’s borders in September 2020.
When the ministers designated for Health, Gender and Social Protection, Information, Transport, and Foreign Affairs appeared before Parliament’s vetting committee in 2021, they said they could not tell who signed the contract and did not have details for members of the Committee. Some of the members of the committee described the deal as “exploitative.”
The Fourth Estate’s analysis in 2021 found that while Frontiers took US$150 for a Covid-19 antigen test at the KIA, less than six kilometers away at East Legon in Ghana’s capital, Accra, a non-citizen of ECOWAS will have to pay only $16.
“Averagely, it should cost between $10 and $20,” virologist and research fellow at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Dr Joseph Humphrey Kofi Bonney, told Joy News on September 1, 2020.
SOURCE: THE FOURTH ESTATE