In a swift response to the plight of stranded pilgrims in Accra, government has set up an emergency taskforce made up of the BNI and CID to investigate whether or not monies paid by prospective pilgrims have been transferred for the chartering of aircraft for the airlifting operations.
The taskforce will also confirm whether arrangements for the pilgrims' accommodation in Saudi Arabia have been made and if measures have been put in place to receive them at the airport in that country.
The force has been tasked to further establish whether the 499 pilgrims who paid their fares last year are being given priority this year.
These were contained in a statement issued yesterday by the Ministry of the Interior and signed by the sector Minister, Hon. Kwamina Bartels.
To ensure that the deadline for the closure of the Jeddah Airport is extended to enable Ghanaian pilgrims to be airlifted, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has contacted its Saudi counterparts towards that end.
Government has expressed concern that pilgrims who paid to travel to Saudi Arabia are going through such travail at the Kotoka International Airport, and to bring succour to the stranded pilgrims, it has ordered NADMO to assist them with tents, portable places of convenience and canopies as shields from elements of the weather.
Government, the statement continued, is concerned that the failures associated with Hajj operations have invariably led to untold hardships for most Moslems who have paid to undertake the pilgrimage.
A government delegation made up of the Ministers of the Interior and National Security and the Deputy IGP visited the stranded pilgrims yesterday.
Hundreds of pilgrims are stranded at the Kotoka International Airport because an aircraft expected to fly them to Saudi Arabia failed to turn up on schedule.
DAILY GUIDE learnt at the time of going to press yesterday that two aircraft, a Boeing 757 and a tri-star were being expected at midnight to convey the first batch of the stranded pilgrims.
By A.R. Gomda