By Alex Boye
The Chairman of the Hajj Board, Sheick I.C Quaye, in the early hours of yesterday, 16 August, 2018, led some members and over 400 pilgrims that joined the last flight in Accra to Saudi Arabia, to partake in the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Later in the evening before this paper went to bed, information trickling in was that all the over 6,200 Ghanaians who registered for this year’s Hajj trip had arrived safely.
The Pilgrims on their arrival in Saudi Arabia heaped praises on the members of the hajj board as well as the President Nana Akufo Addo and his Vice Dr. Muhamadu Bawumia for their supports.
Interestingly, the last flight left Accra with over 500 empty seats, rubbishing claims that many pilgrims who fully paid their fees could not get flight to embark on the trip, to tarnish the good image of the current board.
Further information indicated that the current hajj board worked hard to ensure that the over 6,200 pilgrims traveled to Saudi Arabia within a period of five days unlike in 2016 where the board spent over 13 days to fly all the pilgrims.
However, at a post news conference in Accra before the departure of the last flight last Wednesday, I.C Quaye, described this year’s hajj as the most successful one in the history of Ghana’s pilgrims’ travels to Saudi Arabia.
He stated that Ghana’s quota in 2017 was 5,424 pilgrims but upon request it was increased to 6, 000 with officials due to domestic pressures, adding that an additional 197 slots request was approved through the embassy of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“The effect of exceeding our quota coupled with the huge numbers of infiltrators in Saudi Arabia created the herculean challenge of space, subsequently the board vowed not to engage in any last minute add-ons to our quota” I.C Quaye hinted.
He also indicated that President Akufo Addo’s readiness to facilitate the pilgrimage of 432 left over pilgrims in 2016 by the previous board in particular won the admiration of all and sundry.
The Hajj Board Chairman further disclosed that in ensuring that every pilgrim visits Saudi Arabia this year, the board worked hard to ensure that the visa fee was subsidized by a high percentage by the government.
“A thorough post hajj review was conducted at the instance of the vice president, Dr. Alhaji Muhamadu Bawumia where he posed questions on all aspects of the 2017 hajj and demanded answers. The Vice President touched on transport, accommodation, feeding and flight. Media stories were also not left out,” he stated.