Benin’s land borders remain closed in the pandemic. For air travelers, expensive corona tests are mandatory upon entry and exit.
In the corona crisis, Benin has so far taken a special route. There was no lockdown, nor were markets or Cardinal Bernardin Gantin Airport in the Cotonou metropolis closed. Everyday life went on with some restrictions, at least compared to many neighboring countries.
Benin currently has 2,194 confirmed corona cases in 40 deaths related to the pandemic. In order to keep this as low as possible, when entering and leaving the airport – the land borders remain closed – tests are carried out to see what it can do.
According to the government, 36,276 rapid tests and 94,797 PCR tests have been performed to date.
The first test upon entry costs 100,000 CFA, the equivalent of $170. To be on the safe side, the pass will be withdrawn until the result is collected and payment is made. A negative test made in the country of departure is not enough. One does not know under what conditions this was carried out.
So far, there are no bilateral agreements with individual countries. Tests may be fake. That sounds like a carriage back to Europe, where people are so often suspected of having false papers.
But it has not stayed that way since August. Since then, you can only leave the country with a negative test result, regardless of whether the airlines require it or not. For 50,000 CFA ($85), travelers can stand in line at the Palais des Congrès and pick up the result two days later.
The wait can take several hours. Nobody checks whether the waiting people wash their hands and whether the chairs stay there at a sufficient distance. The luxury version offers more comfort for an additional 38 euros.
There are no special prices for families, an exemption only for students who receive state scholarships. Nobody has heard of a flat rate of 100,000 CFA for both tests, which is officially mentioned, when paying on site.
An employee finds: “If you can pay for a plane ticket, you also have money for the corona test.” The young woman from Burkina Faso with two small children on her lap and by the hand is unnerved gathering her last CFA bills.
The government is now even talking about a corona tax on the website. It is related to the high costs of tests, training of employees and setting up the test center. The fees are not even cost-covering.
The tests are a bargain compared to a rule that has been introduced in the meantime. Arriving foreigners had to go to a two-week forced quarantine in a hotel and pay the costs themselves. Too few would have adhered to self-isolation in their own home.