The source, who sounded dejected, said “with less than three weeks to take off, payment has not been encouraging this year at all. It has been very slow…and when it happens like that, we find it difficult to pay for some of the essential things we need to pay before the holy trip to Mecca.”
The source added that the Pilgrims Affairs Office has taken a decision to cut down on the number of flights, and will by end of this week ,announce cancellation of four flights and reduce Ghana’s quota in order not to “incur unnecessary debts which could mar our track record so far as the organization of Hajj in Ghana is concerned.”
“Ghana has a quota of 5424, but as we speak the number of people who have paid is not encouraging so in order to avoid a situation where people will come and pay at the last minute and create chaos because you could not arrange within the limited time to airlift them, it is better to work with those who have paid. We need money to pay for the flight, arrange for accommodation, feeding and other things, and we pay for these things from monies paid by prospective pilgrims. We are not being funded,” the source added.
The Pilgrims Affairs Office early this year announced its preparedness to airlift 5424 Ghanaians to Mecca to perform this year’s Hajj.
According its chairman, Alhaji Rauf Tanko, Ghana has a quota of 5,424 pilgrims for this year, while the total numbers of hajj officials including medical team, logistics and administration officers have been pegged at 65.
He said the fare remains US$3,450 and that those paying in Ghana Cedis would pay an amount of GHc 11,900.00 at a special rate, adding that NAS Airlines of Saudi Arabia has been contracted by the Secretariat to fly Ghana's pilgrims to and from the Hajj.
Alhaji Rauf Tanko indicated that the first flight would leave Accra on September 5th 2015 with total of 450 pilgrims per flight.
The secretariat, he revealed, had secured 5,800 comfortable and convenient sleeping places for this year's pilgrims.
The accommodation, according to him, is for one month in Mecca, three days in Madina and three days in Mina.
The Chairman explained that the National Hajj Secretariat would be responsible for the feeding of pilgrims only in Mina and Arafat.
However, a source at the hajj secretariat said, due to delay and slow pace in payment, the arrangements the NHC has made so far are in limbo, saying “if the payment trend does not change in the next three days, we would be left with no option than to cancel four flights and that means close to 2000 prospective pilgrims would be affected,” the source added.