Accra, Oct. 17, GNA - The newly constituted National Hajj Council on Monday announced that 2,200 dollars would be the fee for each pilgrim for this year's Hajj.
The amount includes ticket, official levies to the Saudi authorities, accommodation, transport, tents, medical care, task force services and administrative overheads.
The Council was established recently as a permanent body in-charge of organising and planning of the Hajj to avoid the perennial problems associated with the pilgrimage where flights are delayed, baggage is not delivered on time and pilgrims are stranded in Ghana and Saudi Arabia. Briefing the media in Accra, Sheikh Mustapha Ibrahim, Chairman of the Council, said the decision was arrived at with support of other stakeholders such as agents and the banks.
He said Ghana's package was usually the lowest in the sub-region, which attracted would-be pilgrims from other countries where packages were slightly higher.
Sheikh Ibrahim said last year's fare of 1,690 dollars was very low compared to approximately 2,050 dollars in Togo, 2,314 dollars in Mali and 2,800 dollars in Burkina Faso.
He appealed to all would-be pilgrims to keep within the free baggage and hand luggage allowance allowed to prevent any confusion or unnecessary delays.
"Pilgrims are to note that the Council will not be responsible for any excess baggage outside the free baggage and hand luggage allowance officially granted each pilgrim," he added.
Sheikh Ibrahim also reminded the pilgrims not to carry narcotic drugs and weapons. He also said foodstuff and all kinds of birds were prohibited from the Saudi Kingdom.
Dr Ahmed Issaka Abdulai, a Consultant to the Council, said the intrusion of Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians who went on the Hajj on their own but insisted on having accommodation and other facilities with those who went on official tickets was a major problem afflicting Hajj programmes.
"With the institution of the Council, we hope to tackle all these thorny issues to ensure that no agent brings in people other than those registered in Ghana to the Hajj," he added. He said the council would soon announce the official bank of the 2006 Hajj and appealed to all those planning to participate to abide with the laws to make the pilgrimage a success.