Hajj Board ‘Cancels’ Last Airlift
…After Shambolic Organization
A last-minute decision by the organizers of this year’s holy journey to defer airlifting of the last batch of prospective pilgrims from Ghana to Mecca in Saudi Arabia has left hundreds stranded, amidst frustration.
The Hajj Board Secretariat, in a short communique issued yesterday, sighted by The Anchor, said, “The last flight for this year’s Hajj airlift has been postponed to Friday the day on which prospective pilgrims are expected to report at the Hajj Village for check-in formalities,” adding “Departure is scheduled for Saturday.”
The affected pilgrims told The Anchor, the secretariat made the impromptu announcement after many of them have started arriving at the Hajj Village, in preparation for check-in formalities.
According to the prospective pilgrims, the sudden development is due to the poor manner this year’s holy journey has been organized, under Alhaji Ben Abdallah Banda, as board chairman of the Ghana Hajj Board.
Some have also alleged certain unscrupulous elements are briskly doing business by using the protocol ticket given them to sell to third party at a cost, ranging from GH₵25,000 to GH₵30,000.
It is unclear, if the authorities are aware or these developments and what necessitated the postponement.
But the Hajj Board explained, “The decision was taken at an emergency Hajj Board meeting to ensure that the necessary mop-up is done so no paid-up prospective pilgrim is left behind.”
Per the new arrangements, the flight has been scheduled to leave on Saturday, June 24, 2023. The prospective pilgrims are expected to report to the Hajj Village for check-in formalities on Friday, June 23, 2023.
They Board has, meanwhile, apologised for the inconvenience caused to any pilgrim.
“The Board wishes to apologize to those who might be inconvenienced by the decision which after all will inure to the interest of prospective pilgrims,” the statement reads.
The first batch of pilgrims, totaling 433, were airlifted from Tamale to Saudi Arabia on Friday, June 9, 2023.
Ghanaian Dies In Mecca
In a related development, a Ghanaian has lost her life, while on pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Zulfawu Ishaku, 68, was believed to have hailed from Kumasi in the Ashanti Region. It is unclear what caused the death of the pilgrim.
But, according to 3news.com report, the deceased woman was said to be on a visiting visa, which is not allowed by Saudi authorities for pilgrimage.
Such persons are said to infiltrate the Ghanaian camp annually to observe the Hajj at the expense of government-registered pilgrims.
This year, the Ghana Hajj Board warned would-be pilgrims not to attempt to travel to Saudi Arabia with such visas, as they would be arrested and handed over to the authorities.
Over the weekend, three of such persons were arrested.
Zulfawu Ishaku was said to have travelled to Mecca during Umrah season with the intention to stay over and perform Hajj with those officially permitted to.
Unfortunately, on her part, she went through difficult times during her stay, which led to a worsening medical situation, resulting in her demise.
Officials of the Ghana Consulate has been informed about the situation and processes are underway to have her buried.
But the board, in a statement, said that the deceased woman was not a member of their pilgrims.
“The Ghana Hajj Board wishes to state that the reported death of a Ghanaian lady, Zulfawu Isahaku, is something the board, like others, read from a section of the media.
“The deceased is not part of our registered Ghanaian pilgrims performing this year’s Hajj,” the statement said.
The statement added that, although it appears the woman is a Ghanaian, the matter is one that the authorities in Saudi Arabia have to handle.
“The subject as it is falls within the remit of the Ghana High Commission in Saudi Arabia.
“We are unable therefore to comment on the subject,” the statement added.