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07.01.2008 General News

Hajj Council Says All Is Well

By Daily Guide
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CHAIRMAN of the Interim National Hajj Council (IHMC), Ustaz Seidu Ahmad, has told DAILY GUIDE in Mecca that all is well with this year's Hajj.

In a reaction to Ghana's envoy to Saudi Arabia's disclosure that government has spent over US$1million on this year's Hajj, Ustaz Seidu said he was not briefed about the development.

“The ambassador should have explained government's role in the operations,” he said.

The ambassador, Rashid Bawa had earlier told this paper about the role government played in this year's Hajj, which was dogged with problems prior to the commencement of the trip.

One of the flights which airlifted the pilgrims was organized by government when problems threatened this year's pilgrimage.

He said hypocrisy and other negative tendencies had created certain bottlenecks for the Hajj, but added that the Council had learnt useful lessons for future exercises.

He has called for the pruning of the number of agents as one of the ways of streamlining Hajj operations including assigning them prescribed roles. “Future Hajj operations should be managed by a strong Hajj Council,” he stated.

On the issue of charging 50 Riyals per pilgrim, the IHMC Chairman noted that it was to ensure that goods were delivered without getting lost en route as experienced previously.

Ustaz Seidu announced that the differences that rocked the front of the Council have now been resolved, adding that a meeting was held between them and the ambassador and the outcome was fruitful.

According to him, only five persons have died so far in this year's Hajj, and asked for the placement of age limits on those who would perform future Hajj.

Saudi nationals are allowed to perform the Hajj only once every five years.

Concerns have been raised in some Hajj circles in Mecca about what have been described as mischievous reports about this year's Hajj by a certain Accra-based radio station.

One of the reports, which was also carried by a national newspaper, has it that Ghanaian pilgrims were stranded and suffering.

Pilgrims are by convention, expected to stay in Saudi Arabia for 30 days, but because of the hiccups and delay suffered in Ghana prior to the trip, they are spending just about 21 days.

“There is no basis for such media houses to create the impression that pilgrims are stranded,” said a concerned pilgrim.

The cellular phone has made it possible for people to send flimsy reports to Ghana and some of these were given prominence in publications and radio reports.

The truth of the matter, according to sources, was that many, who were paid for to embark on the Hajj, were given paltry amounts as pocket money. “Such persons, some of who buy ostentatious items, end up exhausting their money and thus creating the impression that their plights were the result of a Council member's inefficiency,” Hajj Marzuk told DAILY GUIDE.

Hajj Marzuk expressed concern that some untrained radio presenters, who lack the necessary journalistic knowledge, use the Hausa language to spread venomous and mendacious reports about the Hajj to incite the Muslim population against those tasked with the difficult task of managing the Hajj.

“Such personalities have even extended their malice against the media team which accompanied the pilgrims, accusing them of being paid to do propaganda work for the Hajj Council. We would respond accordingly at the appropriate time.”

In a related development, representatives of the Alama Tourism and Travel Company including their CEO, Colonel Farouk Kureishi (rtd), hosted members of the Hajj Council during which they expressed remorse about the hiccups which visited the Hajj operations.

During the interaction on the banks of the Red Sea in Jeddah, Alhaji Ahmed Zakaria a.k.a. Samson Kwakwa, the man who was instrumental in the engagement of the Alama Group for the airlifting operations, painted a beautiful picture of investment opportunities in Ghana, and invited the Arabs to come to the country.

Samson Kwaakwa is in Saudi Arabia to witness the airlifting exercise of the pilgrims back home.From A.R. Gomda, Mecca,

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