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07.06.2007 General News

Overhaul Hajj Council - Committee

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The Committee of Enquiry set up to probe alleged mismanagement of the 2006/07 Hajj has recommended that the National Hajj Council be re-structured.

It recommended that the restructuring should be done in consultation with the government to restore confidence, accountability and transparency in its operations.

The Committee also recommended the need to institute clear mechanisms for monitoring NHC's performance and ensuring
accountability to the National Hajj Conference.

Speaking at a press briefing in Accra to present the report to the various stakeholders of the Hajj Council, the Chairman of the Committee, Alhaji Abdul Razzaq Khailani, said the committee was made up of the Coalition of Muslim Organizations, Ghana (COMOG), Federation of Muslim Women's Association of Ghana (FOMWAG) and Ahlussunna Wal-Jama'a (ASWAG).

Alhaji Khailani said even though the committee encountered obstacles, it was able to deal with the challenge, adding that, the
recommendations would go a long way in ensuring a well-constituted Hajj Council to steer the affairs of Muslims in the country.

He said his contacts with the National Chief Imam indicated the desire for sanity to prevail on the Hajj Council and called on Muslims to exercise patience, unity and tolerance.

Mr. Mohammed Frimpong, Vice-Chairman of the Greater Accra COMOG, said the Committee found that there was a serious
communication gap among the NHC, pilgrims and Hajj agents with some Hajj agents involved in passport and travel certificate
racketeering.

Mr. Frimpong said the Committee found that the NHC contracted Egypt Air for the delivery of three charted flights and not five as was made known to the general public in December 2006.

He said had the NHC cooperated with Hajia Zainabu, the brain behind the acquisition of the Jumbo jet from Nigeria, the stranded
pilgrims would have been airlifted since the jet left Accra for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, almost empty.

He said the bypassing of Akuaba Travel and Tours by the NHC after contracting it to deal with Ethiopian Airline was uncalled for and that fairness was not applied in the boarding of SAT Swiss Aviation Group aircraft.

The report also recommended that standard procedures such as invitation for bids should be advertised for service providers to submit bids, which should be evaluated by a Committee for the selection of the bid.

It said there should be a cut-off point of at least three months prior to the commencement of Hajj flights for proper and efficient planning by the NHC.

The report also recommended that Hajj Agents should be properly screened before their selection and that luggage standardization policy for pilgrims should be formulated and strictly adhered to.

Source: GNA

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