As it is noted with many Ghanaians in as far as time consciousness is concern, while over 200 would-be Ghanaian pilgrims were stranded at the Hajj village in Accra last week Wednesday, the last of the 12 chartered flights with a capacity of 450 passengers secured by the Pilgrims Affairs Office for this year’s Hajj, virtually left the shores of the country empty.
This unfortunate development, The aL-hAJJ has gathered, was as a result of “last minute” payments and submission of documents by some of the prospective pilgrims. Most of the stranded pilgrims could not procure their passports early enough thus, unable to secure the required visas from the Saudi Embassy by the closing date, Tuesday, September 15, 2015.
The aL-hAJJ has further gathered that some of the pilgrims who could not make the journey to Hajj this year where persons who either made late submission and payments, had problems in processing their passports or were unable to beat the deadline set by the Saudi embassy for the acquisition of visa that should enable them make the journey to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.
Some of these last minute would-be pilgrims therefore, had their passports stuck in the Saudi embassy. “As at Wednesday, Saudi embassies stopped issuing visas to prospective pilgrims and this was not limited to Ghana,” a source close to the authorities of the Pilgrims Affairs office told The aL-hAJJ.
The source added “some of the prospective pilgrims who were said to have been left stranded at the Hajj village paid at the last minute so the Saudi embassy could not process their visas in time for the trip. That is why, if you would recall, the Chairman has been particular about the issue of late payments.”
The aL-hAJJ has gathered that the inability to airlift the last minute would-be pilgrims to Mecca would consequently, cost the Pilgrims Affairs office over 500,000 dollars in loss of income. “You know we always pay ahead of time for all the flights, the same way we pay for accommodation in Madina-Mecca-Mina, feeding, Airport taxes, ground transportation and other things for the yearly quota given us.
So when it happens that you don’t meet your quota, you will incur debt because we have paid for all of them in advance. As you can see, the last flight which we have paid for flew to Mecca virtually empty,” an official of the Pilgrims Affairs office who pleaded anonymity disclosed to The aL-hAJJ.
It would be recalled that last month; The aL-hAJJ reported that the Pilgrims Affairs office was contemplating cancelling four out of the 12 scheduled flights booked for this year’s Hajj because of slow pace of payment.
Payment for this year’s Holy Pilgrimage trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was reported very slow and uncertain, as a result; it hindered the Pilgrims Affairs’ effort to purposefully plan. Ghana has been allowed a quota for 5,450 this year.
While many would have thought the would-be pilgrims would heed the chairman’s appeal and pay on time after The aL-hAJJ publication to avert difficulties that could mar the enviable track record of the Alhaji Rauf Tanko led Pilgrims Affairs administration, the opposite was case.
Last week when the last flight for Hajj left Ghana virtually empty, hundreds of pilgrims who did not pay on time and therefore the processing of their passports and visas ahead of time for this year’s Hajj ritual were left stranded at the Hajj village.
Source: The Al-Hajj
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