PMF Rationalizes New Hajj Fare
An Islamic pressure group, Patriotic Muslim Front (PMF), has rationalized the new Hajj fare announced by the Ghana Hajj Board as cost of transporting Ghanaian pilgrims to Mecca.
According to the group, although this year’s increment is better, compared to the last year’s, they believe a further review would be helpful to cushion the plight of eligible Ghanaian pilgrims, considering the current economic challenges.
President of the group, Haruna Mohammed, told The Anchor that, based on the explanation received from the Ghana Hajj Board, coupled with the PMF’s own independent investigations in Saudi Arabia regarding the fees, the $6,500 fare announced for Ghanaians is reasonable.
However, he insists that the Ghanaian authorities can still do something about the cost to encourage more members of the Muslim community to honour their religious obligations.
The Ghana Hajj Board has announced that prospective pilgrims to Mecca this year will pay $6,500, which translates into GH₵75,000 each.
The current increment, according to some stakeholders, translates into about 30 percent. Last year, for instance, the fare was $5,800,but subsidized to $800 by the government.
The Anchor is informed that the only reason this year’scost appears high is that the government was unable to make any subsidy, and that is how come the increment seems huge.
But speaking to this paper, Mr. Haruna Mohammed said, even though the new Hajj Board had engaged some civil society organizations and stakeholders before announcing the fare, GH₵75,000 is not small money in Ghana today due to economic hardships.
“GH₵75,000 is not a small money in Ghana as we speak today, I foresee a lot of people will not be able to pay, considering economic challenges,” he said.
Nonetheless, he said, the Patriotic Muslim Front will want to appeal to the Muslim community to remain calm, as they make further engagements with the authorities in charge.
He noted that, PMF is for the general public, particularly Muslims in the Zongo communities and everywhere in Ghana, with the assurance that the group is working around the matter to ensure everyone is satisfied with the new fare as announced.
The group also commended the new management team of the Ghana Hajj Boardfor involving civil society organizations (CSOs) who are stakeholders in their deliberations.
While congratulating the new team, led by its chairman, the former MP for Offinso South, Alhaji Ben Abdallah Banda, and Alhaji Farouk Hamza as the new Executive Secretary of the Hajj Board Secretariat, the group said the appointment did not come as a surprise for them.
However, they urged the newly-appointed members to complement the old members to uphold the principles of accountability and value for money.
“PMF is also asking the new leadership to restore the lost confidence in the Board under the leadership of Sheikh IC Quaye,” the president stated.
He served notice that members of the Patriotic Muslim Front will keep an eye on the activities of the new Hajj Board and will not hesitate to call them to order when they attempt to go off track.