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Religion of Sunday, 4 September 2016


Last Hajj flight to take off Sunday, failed pilgrims to receive refunds

The Chairman of Pilgrims Affairs Office of Ghana (PAOG) is expecting the last batch of prospective pilgrims to be airlifted to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, September 4.

Abdul Rauf Tanko Ibrahim said the check-in time for the last flight is at 6 p.m. but Hajj pilgrims are expected to report early for pre-arrangement ahead of departure formalities.

There were chaotic scenes at the Hajj Village in Accra on Friday as stranded prospective pilgrims demanded answers from the Hajj Board.

The frustrations were against the backdrop of accusations of favouritism to enplane party faithful of the governing National democratic Congress (NDC) on the last flight.

However, interacting with some of the unsuccessful pilgrims at the Hajj Village Saturday, the Hajj Board Chairman revealed he has so far refunded a colossal amount of money to most of the unsuccessful Hajj hopefuls with few left to settle.

Explaining the reason behind the situation of having stranded prospective pilgrims, Mr Tanko explained that PAOG per Ghana's quota of 5424 this year, scheduled 11 flights to airlift Ghanaian pilgrims which were done successfully from August 19-30.

However, he said his office was confronted with the unexpected situation of an overpayment which came about as a result of an assurance he received from the Saudi Arabia Minister of Hajj.

During the Hajj conference this year, he said the Minister promised them an additional 1000 seats to the original quota of 5,424.

For that reason, PAOG extended the July 15 deadline to July 23 for payments because of the assurance of an increase in quota but unfortunately, the Saudi Arabia Government through the Minister of Hajj failed to live up to their promise.

He said eventually created a backlog of would-be Pilgrims who were denied Visa for this year's Hajj.
This is in clear contradiction to what the Board had communicated to Joy News before the start of this year's Hajj pilgrimage.

Communication Director of the Board, Mohammed Amin Lamptey had told Joy News Ghana was to fly 5,424 pilgrims this year prior to the commencement of the Hajj in Tamale.

The Hajj Board Chairman expressed worries and apologised to Ghanaians and appealed for support and cooperation from the affected individuals and their relatives.

The Chairman of Hajj Agents Association of Ghana, Issah Umar, popularly called Meishinkafa appealed for calm from the unsuccessful travelers.
The 2016 Hajj pilgrimage is expected to begin on September 10 and end on September 16.

Ghanaian pilgrims are expected back home from September 22 -25 starting at the Tamale International Airport and ending on October 2 in Accra.