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General News | Jan 11, 2005

Hajj Crisis Persists

Ghanaian Times

The sixth batch of 270 pilgrims that was expected to leave Accra for the Holy Land by 6pm on Monday is still stranded at the El-wak Stadium.

A visit to the stadium in the afternoon on Monday, small groups of dejected pilgrims were seen waiting anxiously to hear from the Hajj Committee members and their agents, following yet another disappointment.

Five out of seven batches of pilgrims to Mecca had already left, however the frustrations, delays, postponement of flights still continues.

Hayat Tawfiq, 31 said they have originally been asked to report at 4am on Monday to go through flight formalities but after waiting for more than five hours, they had still not been attended to.

Ms Tawfiq claimed that about 60 of the pilgrims had left some of their luggage behind due to space constraints on the aircraft.

Another pilgrim Hajia Fati Gariba questioned the yearly recurrence of frustrations that Muslims pilgrims are subjected to.

A travel agent of Choggu Travel and Tours in Tamale, Mr. Mubarak Mohammed said some of the pilgrims were not aware of the luggage allowance stressing that they left their luggage behind due to ignorance of departure formalities.

On the issue of the relevance of the Hajj Committee and Agencies, Mr. Mubarak said they are still relevant to pilgrims particularly those from the three Northern Region.

“ Most of these pilgrims from these parts cannot get documents processed by themselves, it will be difficult for them to go through the formalities without any assistance, he said.

In a telephone interview the chairman of the Hajj Committee, Alhaji Abdul Rahman Nantoma gave the assurance that the last batch of pilgrims would depart either on Tuesday or Wednesday.

On why the El-wak stadium was used for pre-departure formalities, he said the venue was to ensure smooth facilitation of procedures stressing that the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and the Military approved it.

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