Getting out of Angola during the COVID-19 Pandemic
In this article one of our team members narrates his experience on getting out of Angola during the corona virus pandemic of.
I don't even know where to start to share my experience with leaving Angola. Getting the COVID-19 tests done was so complicated for me. There is the test to be done in Benguela then another one to be done in luanda. The one in Luanda needed to be done within 72 hours of the flight. Which means I was supposed to travel to luanda earlier to allow enough time for that.
So I went to book a bus ticket to drive me to Luanda from Benguela only to discover that buses do not go to luanda because the government did not allow it as a preventive measure for COVID-19. So I had to book a flight only to find out that flights to Luanda are only on Fridays. The clinic in Luanda had given me an appointment for Friday morning only and if I take the flight I would not make it on time for that. If I took the flight to Luanda I would have had to shift my Flight out of Angola to another day, but I could not afford to do that. So I went back to buy a bus ticket that would take me halfway to lunda, to the province border. Then from there I'd pass a check for the COVID test and then make my way to the capital with a taxi. I bought the ticket for Tuesday night to arrive at the border on Wednesday morning around 8. Then I go to take the test on Monday at 9 AM in Benguela to cross borders and the results would be out in 20 hours. I got to the clinic and the tests kits were finished for the day. This was Cinica Sagrada Esperança, the only place that does the test in Benguela.
That was just devastating. I spoke with a worker there who told me to come back around 1300 and maybe then I can do a test whose results would be out in 2 or 3 hours and that test would cost 19800 kzs. I come back at 1300 only to find out they still don't have kits for that day and they tell me to come back the following day at 0600 AM. That would be the day I take my bus to Luanda but luckily the bus would leave Benguela at midnight so it was ok to do the test in the morning. I came back in the morning to do the fast test only to find out that there was already a queue but it was not that long.
Apart from this queue there was already a list of people who had made an appointment for the test. I was never told about the appointment and the group that was already queueing was angry for the same reason. Some of them came the day before and were told to return the following day early, like me. The fast test which I wanted to do is only done in the afternoon at 1300. So I had to wait there until 1300. We were also told to present our travelling preservations. So I had to go back home to pick my bus ticket and wait there so no one takes my place in line. At 8 AM the people in the list started arriving and getting tested while everyone who arrived early was told to wait to make appointments for the following day. It was frustrating for everyone. Around ten they started letting them in to make the appointments for the following day by paying already for the test and it was almost 14 000kz.
People who arrived after me needing to do the fast test started entering too and registering to do the test at 1300 while whenever I tried to enter I was told to sit back, relax and wait for two o'clock. People who were already queueing at 6 needing to do the fast test were also very angry about this. They were waiting in their cars and outside the gate while the majority of the others had just decided to register for the slow test and get results the following day. Seeing more people entering I decided to make my way in too. They just made me filled in a short form and was told to go to pay for the fast test without any questions. So I don't know why the guards at the gate and some manager who kept passing by told me to wait for two o'clock because the people who kept getting in would have finished the test kits before then. If you are looking to do the fast test you definitely have to make your way in before midday to start doing the paperwork and making the payment. By 1130 I was done with the paperwork and I had paid. At 1300 they started testing us and told us the results would be out in 40 minutes but that became two hours because the results were out at 1500. Then I just waited to take my bus to Rio Longa (the border between Luanda and Benguela) at midnight.
My kind wife drove me with our motorbike to the macon area and we got there at midnight. The bus was supposed to leave at 0130 but that became 0300 in the end. They call this bus the one that leaves at 0000 and tell you to be there by that time but your ticket is written that it leaves 0130 so I would advise you get there at 0100-0115. The bus that would take me to Rio Longa was the one that came from Santoh Clara and it was behind schedule on that day. Bear in mind that this the normal bus it is not the VIP one because Macon is not allowed to go all the way to Luanda at the current day. I had some friends from the COVID-19 testing confusion and I was happy to see them waiting for the same bus as me. Others were travelling with the one that leaves at 0800 and others were travelling on different days.
The bus was not bad inside, the sits were comfortable. The charging ports for phones were not working though so you may want to bring a book to read instead of staying on your phone, most of the road that does not have network coverage anyway. Most of the road is bumpy too as some is not tarred it's just a dirt road. The bust that I took travelled in the night where most shops were closed, so you may wan to bring your own snack. It stops at a Macon terminal at Sumbe for a pit stop. Then it goes all the way to rio longa where it drops you at what looks like the middle of nowhere. That is where the police check your COVID-19 tests and let you pass if you were negative. This is a short walk, I would advise you to take the walk if you do not have huge luggage. Otherwise take a mototaxi which will cost you 1000 kzs. The tests will be checked three times then you will be at the taxis or mini buses stop.
The mini buses or taxis are always waiting for passengers and when I was there there were 4 people collecting. They go all the way to Luanda at a place called Bem Fica and the ride is 5000 kwanzas. This ride is not comfortable, there is no leg room and luggage can include live chickens and other things the Angolan women sell to make a living.
Doing the test in Luanda is quite easy. I had called a week before going to luanda to make an appointment for my test. Over the phone they will ask when you will travel and then tell you the best time to come and do the test. I had made an appointment for 0925 but in the end that didn't matter. When I got there I had to queue for half an hour. This was at the I arrived at 0900 and the security guard told everyone to queue and wait their turn even those that had made an appointment. They did ask if I had made an appointment before making me queue though so I cannot say that making the appointment was completely useless. I would advise that you make the appointment anyway so you get to discover even more information that you may have overlooked about the time to do the test, how long it takes to get the results and so on..
I paid for the test and at the time it was
They accepted cash and payment by card. One i paid i queued for a minuted with those that had paid and taking the sample lasted like two seconds. I just had to pull the musk down to expose only the nose they they inserted the small stick in the nostril to collect the sampled. They spinned it once and took it out and it was good to go. This was a friday morning and they told me to come back on sunday at 1700. This was at ground level. When i came back on sunday at 1645 i was told you have to go to the tenth floor or the 11th floor. On the tenth floor nobody answered the door though so I went to the 11th where there were a considerable number of people waiting for different things. The receptionist said the result would take a bit so i should wait with the people. The chairs were distanced apart like 1 meter and sometimes you'd see nurses calling in patients to see a doctor or something. My results finally arrived in 1915 and they were negative. The following day when I travelled I arrived at the airport to have my luggage sprayed with disinfectant before entering the airport. Once I was in the results of the covid test were checked at a desk before going to the check-in desk. The temperature was checked there and that was the only point where the temperature was checked. The results are checked for the second time at the check in desk and that’s and at the boarding desk (where you show your boarding pass before going on the bust to the plane).