Sheer incompetence and logistical challenges recently saw Team Botswana and other African countries enduring a nightmarish scenario at the recently concluded Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) championships held in Asaba, Nigeria.
The visa and immigration mishap recently made international headlines as some of the best athletes in Africa were left stranded in Nigeria. Upon arrival at the Lagos airport last week Friday, Team Botswana were confronted by Nigerian officials who seized their passports as prior preparations had not been made by the CAA local organising committee.
The incontinence continued for 48 hours as members of the team only got their passports two days later. This week, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) spokesperson Ipolokeng Ramatshaba said the team was never stranded in Nigeria but confirmed that the immigration authorities seized their passports. Ramatshaba, who travelled with the team to the continental showpiece said members of the CAA LOC were not there to greet them at the airports.
“We were the first country to arrive in Nigeria and immigration authorities wanted to charge us for the visa application that was made upon arrival in the country. They took our passports on 27th July and we only got them back two days later,” Ramatshaba said.
He further said they were not the only country required to pay the visa fee at the airport as the likes of South Africa and Morocco had a similar experience.
“We have travelled to the CAA competitions including Morocco and Algeria and we have never experienced an incident like this.” Ramatshaba said their ordeal did not just end with the visa and immigration as they ended up missing their flight after the games were concluded.
“We were told to travel to Asaba airport for our flight home but a lot of countries were travelling back home at the time so we missed our flight. We were told to travel to Benin City to charter another flight but unfortunately we ended up missing it.”
Ramatshaba said the misadventures continued as they were forced to travel 300 km to Lagos by road.
“When we got to Lagos we could not find the airport and when we eventually got there the boarding was already closed and we had to wait for 25 minutes while negotiating to board the flight. We eventually made it home safe after we were allowed into the late-night flight.”