Four hundred and thirty-three pilgrims were airlifted to Medina, Saudi Arabia yesterday, the first of the three scheduled flights from the Accra end.
Most of the pilgrims, some of them accompanied by family members and well-wishers, had assembled at the Hajj Village near the Kotoka International Airport as early as Wednesday.
While some were assured of their takeoff arrangements, others were yet to acquire their visas which were still being processed at the Saudi embassy.
Busloads of pilgrims from Kumasi were among the many persons who had converged on the Hajj Village, most of them passengers of Al Balad Travel Agency.
The CEO, Alhaji Garba, who spoke to the DAILY GUIDE yesterday said “by 7am I had given out passports to my passengers ahead of the check-in process which commenced at about 11am yesterday. Of the 433 passengers who flew to Saudi Arabia yesterday, 340 were mine. The remaining 135 of my passengers would be distributed among the remaining two flights. I have been assured by the Ghana Hajj Board during a meeting.”
The reduced quota from the previous 6,000 plus pilgrims to 3,060 by the Saudi authorities this year put pressure on the GHB to ensure equity in the whole process, especially as there are many who paid their fares two years ago but could not fly because of the suspension of the Hajj as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The quiet grounds of the Hajj Village has become one big hotspot of activities ranging from food sales to document processing at the main adjoining administrative block.
By A.R. Gomda