Muscat: More than 100 Indian nationals in Oman who are flying back home on repatriation flights have been denied from boarding them, due to non-payment of fines here in the Sultanate.
Expats who haven’t paid their fines are given the choice of paying them at the airport. Those who are unable to do so must first clear all their payments, after which they will be accommodated on subsequent flights.
Officials at the Embassy of India in Muscat added that fines were not the only reason some Indians were required to stay back: some foreign nationals in the country had other pending matters to resolve, such as manpower issues and court cases, that prevented them from flying home.
“We had a case where there was an Indian national who had quite a large fine to be cleared, and in this case, we helped him, because the amount due was over OMR450,” said an embassy representative. “From each flight, one or two passengers were asked to deplane, because they had not paid their fines."
“The number of people who have been stopped from boarding has decreased, because word quickly spread that passengers were not being allowed to fly home unless their fines had been cleared,” he added.
While the embassy does normally dip into their community welfare fund to clear any outstanding penalties that people who need to return home in case of emergency might have, they have not done so this time, owing to the volume of Indian nationals who have applied to fly back during the COVID-19 pandemic, both under the Government of India’s Vande Bharat repatriation mission, and chartered flights organised by private and charitable bodies in the country.
On August 1, 2020, around 17 Indians were held back from boarding their charter plane from Salalah to Delhi, the biggest group of passengers to be denied permission so far.
“There were 20 people who had not cleared their fines, and three of them were able to pay these in the airport,” said Manpreet Singh, the chairman of the Indian Social Club in Salalah. “The other 17 were unable to do so, and so will only be allowed to board once their company pays their fines. Their company is waiting for some money to clear these dues.”
Singh, who also serves as the honorary consul of the Embassy of India in Salalah, added that while the Indian Social Club had stepped in to pay the fines due for some people, in extreme cases, it was simply not possible to do so for everyone.
“We did clear some fines where absolutely needed, by asking some companies for sponsorship to help with these issues,” he revealed. “But the companies themselves are unable to do so right now, because the coronavirus has affected everybody. Business is down for everyone.”