Religion of Friday, 18 April 2014
The aL-hAJJ can report on authority that the 2014 Hajj fare would not be different from the US $3450 Ghanaians pilgrims who embarked on last year’s holy journey to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia paid.
A source close to the National Hajj Committee (NHC) headed by Alhaji Abdul Rauf Tanko told this paper that the committee has decided to maintain last years’ US $3450 because the just ended Hajj conference in Saudi Arabia did not make any substantial changes to last year’s arrangement that could have affected the fare.
According to the source though the fare will remain unchanged and that the exceptional packages and services the committee provided last year’s pilgrims which won the admiration of all would be improved upon; Ghanaian pilgrims will however have to contend with paying more cedis this time than last years’.
The fare for the 2013 Hajj was US$3,450 or GHS6, 800 and it include airfare to Jeddah and back, airport taxes, accommodation in Madina and Mecca. Others are health care and insurance, and ground transportation from Medina to Mecca-Mina and Arafat, then back to Mina, Mecca and finally to Jeddah for the return journey back home.
As part of the package pilgrims are provided with special mattresses and feeding at Mina, plus the cost of freight of a Jerri can of Zamzam (Holy) water on their immediate returned to Ghana.
However, this year, pilgrims visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the Hajj would be expect to cough up about GHS10, 000 due to the fall in the exchange rate cedi to other major currencies.
Following experiences from last year’s organization of Hajj, our source revealed that the Committee has decided to provide each pilgrim with three customize bags this year to make luggage processing easier and safe, and also pilgrims would be allowed baggage allowance of 52kg.
Short of giving the cost of the bags, the source said the Hajj Committee Chairman, who was nicknamed by President Mahama as the ‘sole commissioner” due to his exceptional handling of last year’s Hajj, has decided that the committee will bear half of the cost of the bags while pilgrims pay for the remainder.
According to him the NHC has concluded arrangements with Saudi Arabia’s second national airline, FLYNAS to airlift about 6000 potential Ghanaian pilgrims to the holy land this year.
He added that the committee is also working on getting Ghanaian caterers to join their Saudi counterparts to prepare local dishes for prospective pilgrims for this year’s hajj.
The NHC last year organized what has been described by many as one of the best Hajj in recent history.
Over 5000 pilgrims including, 178 of the about 300 backlog of last two year’s pilgrims performed the Hajj in 2014.
Meanwhile, the NHC is expected to hold a press briefing today at the Hajj Village to officially announce this year’s package.