HAJJ: FATE OF 452 PILGRIMS ‘LEFT-BEHIND’ IN 2016 STILL HANGING

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HAJJ: FATE OF 452 PILGRIMS ‘LEFT-BEHIND’ IN 2016 STILL HANGING.

The Ghana Hajj Board has planned to send a total of 6,200 pilgrims to this year’s Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

The number however excludes the 452 pilgrims who fully paid for their trip last year, but were unable to travel as a result of lapses on the part of the Hajj Board.

The new Hajj Board Chairman, Shiehk I.C. Quaye who made this known said negotiations were still underway with government to consider airlifting them to perform the pilgrimage.Last year, the Pilgrims Affairs Office of Ghana (PAOG) the body in charge of Hajj organisation, was accused by some would-be pilgrims of bias.

They said the PAOG side-lined them even though they paid their fare and in their position political party faithful who were sponsored by government went to Mecca.

As a result some Muslims have questioned why government continues to sponsor the pilgrimage and rather called for a stop, since it was un-Islamic.

Sheikh I.C Quaye was in Tamale on Wednesday with the hajj board to inspect facilities at the Tamale Airport and stadium, where they have decided to set up a Hajj village, to process the documentation of pilgrims from the northern zone.

He explained they would start airlifting pilgrims from August 10, 2017 and that they will go in six batches from the Kotoka International Airport and Tamale Airport, 3,000 from the northern zone and the rest from the southern zone.

Though the Saudi Arabian government has allocated a 6,800 quota to Ghana, the Hajj Board says it has budgeted for 6,200 as of now and that efforts were underway to secure funding for the remaining 600.

This year, the Tamale Sport Stadium has been chosen as the alternative place to set up the Hajj village for the processing and documentation of the pilgrims in the northern zone.

Sheikh I.C Quaye commended the security and the management of the airport for their early preparation towards the Hajj programmes.

He added that about 25 pilgrims were repatriated for their inability to meet the required standards in Saudi Arabia last year.

According to him, means of transport has also been secured for the pilgrims to transport them from the venue to their destinations especially for the aged and the vulnerable.

He asked hajj agents to educate their clients on the need to process their passports and their air ticket on time to enable the appropriate security agencies to process them.

The Northern Regional Minister, Mr Salifu Sa-eed noted that the use of the Tamale Sports Stadium would help prevent theft, get the pilgrims proper shelter and reduce the risk sleeping under the mercy of the weather.

Last year a total of 1,500 pilgrims were airlifted from the Tamale Airport to Jeddah Saudi Arabia directly to perform the Hajj.

BY: SAMUEL DUODU.

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