The Hajj Agents Association of Ghana (HAAG) has endorsed the recent increase in this year?s Hajj fare from $3,100 to $3,450 announced by the interim Chairman of the National Hajj Committee, Alhaji Abdul Rauf Tank some few weeks ago.
According to the? National Chairman of the HAAG, Alhaji Alhassan Mahama the association was aware of the circumstances that lead to the upward adjustment of the fare, stressing that it is in the best interest of potential pilgrims that the fare was increased in order to organize a hitch free Hajj.
In an interview with The Al-Hajj, Alhaji Mahama explained that the increase in the fare was not a manipulation by the Hajj Committee or a sinister ploy by some group of persons to milk potential pilgrims, but a decision that was hugely influenced by new packages announced at this year?s Hajj conference which was held in Saudi Arabia.
?The Hajj fare that has been pegged at $3,450 is an international fare that was not created by the Hajj committee, we understand why it has come to that, and we reasonably agree with it,? he added.
The interim National Chairman of the 2013 Hajj Committee, Alhaji Abdul RaufTanko, announced the upward adjustment of the Hajj fare at a press conference at the Hajj village in Accra some few weeks ago.
Citing reasons for the increase, the Alhaji Rauf Tanko stated that the package for the new fares, which was endorsed at this year?s Hajj conference held in Saudi Arabia, included return airfare, airport taxes, accommodation in Madina and Mecca. Others are health care and insurance, and ground transportation from Medina to Mecca-Mina and Arafat, then back to Mina, Mecca and finally to Jeddah for the return journey back home.
According to him under the new arrangement, prospective pilgrims will be provided with special mattresses and feeding at Mina, plus the cost of freight of a Jerri can of Zamzam (holy) water, which he said will be provided to pilgrims immediately they returnback home.
AlhajiTanko noted that, in line with the Hajj committee?s commitment to ensuring the utmost convenience and comfortability of pilgrims, the committee had made a fifty percent down payment in Saudi Arabia for the 6780 prospective pilgrims; a figure representing the quota given to Ghana.
He stated that, the fifty percent down payment was to secure decent accommodation, arrangements for vehicle movement within Saudi Arabia, feeding, taxes and other pressing needs that will ensure that pilgrims from Ghana will enjoy the best of service, adding ?prospective pilgrims should expect the best of treatment.?
In line with this new development, the Chairman of the HAAG called on the Muslim community, especially potential pilgrims to bear with the Hajj committee, saying ?So as far as we the Hajj agents are concerned we will urge the general public to bear with the committee.?
Alhaji Alhassan Mahama also made an appealed to the Bank of Ghana? to release the cedi equivalent of the fare early to avoid confusion and also to speed up the payment, saying, ?In the northern regions we don?t know the Dollar; all we know is the cedi so we will wait until the Bank of Ghana gives us a rate then we can start marketing.?
Source: A. A. Yayra (The Al-Hajj)