The Accredited Hajj Agents Association of Ghana has indicated that the 2019 Hajj fare package that was announcedby the Hajj Board is the lowest fare in the African Sub-reigion.
The Association dispelled claims that wider consultations have not been done before the announcement of the 2019 Hajj Fare package by the Hajj Board led by the Chairman, Sheik I. C. Quaye.
According to the Association this year’s fare of GHC19, 500 (USD 3,750) could have been higher than last year if not for the consultations and interventions by the President, Nana Akufo-Addo and the Chairman of the Board Sheik I. C. Quaye.
Speaking at a press conference, Secretary of the Hajj Agents Association Alhaji Sumaila Tanko a.k.a Alhaji Ila said the GHC19, 500 (USD 3,750) fare which Ghanaian pilgrims are to pay is the lowest Hajj fare in the entire African sub-region although all other countries are also enjoying various forms of subsidy from their government.
According to him, this year there has been huge tarrif hikes and tax increment in Saudi Arabia all of which could have resulted in higher Hajj far but the magnanimity of the government of Ghana and the Hajj Board made it easier for the Board to arrive at GHC19, 500 (USD 3,750).
Makingreferncesto some African countries, Alhaji Sumaila Tanko mentioned that “Nigerian pilgrimsare paying 1.5million Naira (22,500 Cedis), Baurkinafaso pilgtimsare paying 2,430,000 Cfa (21,870 Cedis), Togolese pilgrims are paying 2,380,000 Cfa (21,420 Cedis), Ivorian pilgrims are also paying 2,510,000 Cfa (22,420 Cedis) and Beni pilgrims are paying 2,420,000 Cfa (22,590 Cedis).
He continuedtoindicate that pilgrims coming from Niger are paying 2,170,000 Cfa (19,530 Cedis), those from Mali are paying 2,238,000 Cfa (20,142 Cedis) and those from Cameroon are paying 2,510,000 Cfa (22,590 Ceis).
He mentioned that all interestedparties in the determination of Hajj fares were present during the announcement of the 2019 Hajj fare by the Hajj Board Chairman, Shiek I.C. Quaye and that “the entire membership of the Ghana Hajj AgentsAssociation was present, led by our Chairman Alhaji Issah Umar Suleman. It therefore comes to us as a big surprise that sections of the Ghanaian media and few individuals pursuing their own agenda will seek to draw the name of the Hajj Agents Association into their grand plan by suggesting that we were not consulted by the boardorgovernment before announcing the package.”
Alhaji Sumaila Tanko also pointed out that those people making such frivolous claims either did not know what goes into the determination of fares or they justwant to discredit the Boardin the afce of would-be pilgrims.
He noted that the phenomenon of Hajj fare increasesis not new, and that the last time an increase was witnessed in the Hajj fare was in 2013 under the then Board which increased the fare by USD 350 to 3,450.
“That increment was higher than the present USD 300 introduced by the Sheik I.C. Quaye led board but we embraced itwholeheartedly because we understood the need for the increment at that time. This year’s is no different,” he said.
According to him, the increment still does not reflect the full fare relative to the services enjoyed by Pilgrims throughout the Hajj period, stressing thatthe fare could have been much higher but for the intervention of the government.
He said: “Successive governments have provided subsidy in the Hajj fare to reduce the burden on Ghanaian Pilgrims over the years and for this, the Ghana Hajja Association is grateful toall past and present Governments.”
Alhaji Sumaila Tanko also mentioned that the current Ghana Hajj Board must be commended for feeding the pilgrims throughout their stay in Saudi Arabia; service which other countries whose pilgrims arepaying higher fares are not providing.
“Indeed, since the assumption of office of the current board, we have seen major improvements in the services in various areas and introduction of additional services that are; Feedding in Madina, Feeeding in Makkah, Feeding in Jeddah Airport, VIP Buses from Madina to Makkah, VIP buses from Madina to Jeddah, PVC Air cooler tents in Arafat, Free Bags for all pilgrims, Left-over pilgrims have become a thing of the past and ull paymentof Commissions to Agents,” he added.
He also averred that the current board since it took office gives full refund topilgrims who do not travel for various reasons, offer early processing of visas andensures that pilgrims arrive with their luggages.
The Association in all, commended the President Nana Akufo-Addo, the Hajj Board and the Shiel I.C Quayeled Board for working so hard in theinterest of Muslims since the NPP government took over power.