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18.01.2005 General News

Let Pilgrims up north use Tamale, those down south use KIA - Sumani

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Accra, Jan.18, GNA - Alhaji Abubakar Sumani, Member for Tamale North, on Tuesday called for a an arrangement whereby Hajj Pilgrims up country would fly from Tamale Airport while those down south used the Kotoka International Airport.

"In the General Acheampong era, we used to have a an arrangement whereby pilgrims from Northern, the then Upper and Brong Ahafo Regions took off from Tamale while the rest of the regions used the Kotoka International Airport (KIA). I don't know why it stopped but we can go back to it."

The Member, who is a former Ghana Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was contributing to a Statement by Mr Mahama Ayariga, Member for Bawku Central, on the plight of Ghanaian Hajj Pilgrims. The Hajj is a pilgrimage undertaken by Muslims annually to Mecca, considered as the most sacred city in Islam.

He called for the reconstitution of the Hajj Board to include Muslim Scholars and experienced agents to lessen the burden of prospective Pilgrims.

He said: "Most of the pilgrims have not done long journeys throughout their lives but are made to face untold hardships. We can work on this and get answers."

Hajia Alima Mahama, NPP Nalerigu/Gambaga, said she had to spend three days at the Jedda Airport (Saudi Arabia) when entering and another three days when coming back to Ghana in 1998.

"I took those hardships as part of my spiritual renewal." Mr Ayariga had questioned the intentions and actions of the Hajj Board and condemned it for creating hardships for some of the Pilgrims who were encamped at the El-Wak Sports Stadium in Accra.

He called for a Parliamentary enquiry into "some of the practices that characterized the organisation the pilgrimage this year in addition to circumstances leading to over 800 Ghanaian Muslim Pilgrims getting stranded at Jeddah and causing Ghana great embarrassment."

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