Some pilgrims and their relatives at the Hajj Village.
The airlifting of Ghanaian pilgrims to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for this year’s hajj rituals ended last Saturday.
At about 4pm on the last day, 200 pilgrims were airlifted by Nas Air, a Saudi airline.
The Chairman of the Pilgrims Affairs Office, Ghana, Alhaji Abdul Rauf Ibrahim Tanko disclosed that about 5,165 pilgrims were able to travel to Saudi Arabia as against the target of 5,428.
This fell short of the 5,490 recorded last year.
He attributed the drop to the failure by some prospective pilgrims to submit their passports on time for visa processing.
He said ‘aside this, the overall organization of the trip this year I can say was very successful.’
There were 12 flights for this year’s exercise, with the first flight taking off on 16 th September, he said.
Thirty-three prospective pilgrims who were unable to catch any of the flights had their money refunded to them, he said.
According to him, his office succeeded in clearing the entire backlog his regime inherited from previous administrations over the years except for one of the pilgrims, who decided not to travel for the ritual this year due some personal reasons.
‘The backlog from previous years has all been cleared except for one lady who decided not to travel this year. Last year, we cleared some and this year about 377 of them were able to leave which is a great achievement for the hajj board,’ he said.
There were reports of some self-styled hajj agents fraudulently collecting monies from unsuspecting pilgrims.
DAILY GUIDE gathered that one of the agents simply referred to as ‘Cause Trouble’ collected monies ranging from GH â‚µ 2,500 to GH â‚µ 125,000 from about four potential pilgrims and absconded.
He gave the assurance that the hajj board will liaise with the Chairman of the Accredited Hajj Agents Associations of Ghana to ensure that agents involved in fraudulent acts were arrested and punished.
Some telecommunication companies like MTN and Airtel, as well as businessmen and women marketed their products to the numerous pilgrims at the Hajj Village.
BY Melvin Tarlue
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