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Government exploring possibility of airlifting Hajj pilgrims from Tamale to Mecca   
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A committee tasked with accessing the feasibility of airlifting prospective Hajj pilgrims from the Tamale Airport to Saudi Arabia has been formed.

Vice President John Dramani Mahama who announced this when interacting with Muslim leaders at the Tamale Central Mosque as part of his four-day tour of the Northern Region, said the move was part of measures to ensure a hassle-free pilgrimage this year.

He said the committee, which include aviation experts were mandated to ascertain whether the airport had the requisite facility to support the take-off and landing of long-haul commercial aircrafts, including appropriate runway.

The Vice President assured Alhaji Abdusallam Abdulai, Regional Chief Imam, that a successful Hajj will be organised this year.

To facilitate the process government has set October 15, as the deadline for Muslims embarking on the Hajj to pay the approved fares and November 10, for the first batch of pilgrims to be transported to Mecca.

Vice President Mahama also used the opportunity to educate the Muslim community about some changes in travelling arrangements to Saudi Arabia.

He said government had introduced the use of passports for the pilgrims instead of the previous practice which allowed the travellers to depend solely on hajj documents.

In addition, the Saudi authorities are determined not to accept people who are above 79 years and expectant mothers for this year’s hajj, owing to some global health concerns.

Vice President Mahama touched on efforts being made by government to resuscitate the economy as well as specific development policies being outlined for the region to promote growth and reduce unemployment.

One of such policy is the proposed Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), under which the region is to experience massive infrastructural investments in the agriculture, education, health and road sectors to transform the living conditions of the people.

Vice President Mahama said SADA would boost the cotton industry and shea development as part of efforts to bridge the development gap between Northern and Southern Ghana.

He said government had signed an agreement with a Brazilian company for the installation of a shea processing plant at Buipe as part of a policy to transform the region into an industrial hub.

Dr Al-Hussein Zakaria, Spokesperson for the Regional Imam, assured the government of his support in uplifting the living standards of the people.
Source: GNA

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