The Chairman of Pilgrims Affairs of Ghana (PAOG) Sheikh Ibrahim Cudjoe Quaye has revealed that the current administration has air lifted the 452 stranded passengers left over by the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime to this year’s hajj pilgrimage.
According to chairman Quaye, those passengers paid for their trip but could not be airlifted by the previous government for reasons best known to them, but the current administration took it into consideration and took them to hajj this year.
The hajj board chairman indicated that the list of the stranded passengers was attached to the handing over note from the previous board chairman.
Hon. I.C Quaye made this known at this year’s thanksgiving service over the weekend in Accra to give thanks and praises to Almighty God for successful 2017 Hajj.
“I want to state that for the first time, government had intervened to clear a debt of GH¢ 31 million incurred by the previous Board to airlift 452 left-over would be pilgrims in 2016 on compassionate grounds to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”.
As part of numerous success chalked in this year’s pilgrimage, the PAOG Chairman said a record was set for the first time as the luggage allowed for pilgrims was increased from 46 to 50 kilogrammes, as every additional kilogramme attracted Saudi Arabian Riyals (SAR) 10 as compared to 2016 when additional kilos were charged of SAR30.
“These mechanisms have been put in place to ease the financial burdens of pilgrims in accordance with the national aspiration of the government of President Akufo-Addo”, he added.
The Board also built a clinic in the premises of the Hajj Village in Accra and proceeded to set up six temporal clinics in Saudi Arabia to ensure that the health needs of Ghanaian pilgrims were met.
As any human institution Sheikh I.C Quaye said, the Board experience some resolvable challenges beyond its control but had to be circumspect for national security and diplomatic reasons citing a case in which the Board was confronted with accommodation challenges, a dilemma which the Board drew the attention of the Saudi Arabian Police to eject illegal Ghanaian immigrants who invaded the hotels and camps of Ghanaian pilgrims in Makkah and Mina.
The Akufo Addo feeding of Ghanaian pilgrims in Madina upon arrival and at the Jeddah Airport before departure back to Ghana sent signals of how the president was concerned about Muslims and delivery on his promises to make Hajj a better one.
The Chairman thanked President Akufo-Addo and his Vice, Alhaji Dr Bawumia, the Saudi Arabian Embassy, especially the Ambassador, the National Chief Imam, the Board members and all stakeholders in the industry for their contributions towards a successful Hajj 2017.
He also called on all pilgrims whose luggage were left in Saudi Arabia due to the non- availability of air carriage space to visit the Hajj Village with their passports and receipts for identification and collection.
The Vice President was represented by Alhaji Ibrahim Adjei; a member of the office of the Vice President also commended also political parties involved to ensure this year’s hajj has become a success one.
He urged Muslim Ummah to support the government in prayers to deliver on its mandate and make Ghana a better place for all.
The ceremony brought together Hajj Agents, Ghana Immigration Service, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana Airport, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and other Security Services and stakeholders in the Hajj Industry.
It also brought together all the 10 Regional Imams across the country, Muslim chiefs and opinion leaders and some pilgrims who embarked on the 2017 pilgrimage.
By: Iddrissu A. Jara