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Some tubers of yam stuffed with kola
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Ghanaians are defying the ban on kola export to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by unfurling ingenious methods of outsmarting local authorities at the Hajj Village.

Stubborn pilgrims create deep grooves in tubers of yam and hide kola nuts in them as a means of outsmarting eagle-eyed authorities at the Hajj Village who are enforcing the Saudi ban on kola exports to the Kingdom. The cut in the tubers of yam are done so neatly and covered afterwards that, only a careful observation can unearth it.

The Public Relations Officer of the Pilgrims Office, Ghana, Mr Alhassan Suhyini yesterday told DAILY GUIDE that their office had seized a large quantity of the crop which is classified as a drug in Saudi Arabia.

In Ghana, kola nuts are not banned and so pilgrims only lose the stimulant but not their freedom.

The seizure and the efforts of the Pilgrims Office is intended to spare Ghana the embarrassment and inconvenience of arrests of pilgrims from our shores in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

There are a few Ghanaian pilgrims doing time in Saudi prisons after being arrested for breaching Saudi laws on drugs.

Saudi authorities regard kola nuts as psychopathic drugs and treat them as such when carriers are nabbed.

One of the storerooms at the Hajj Village earmarked for the storage of holy water or zamzam on behalf of pilgrims is half filled with seized kola seized from those who planned to outsmart the authorities but failed.

Kola nuts, important stimulants savoured by both Asian and African migrants in Saudi Arabia regardless of the strict enforcement of the law banning it is still available for purchase in the Kingdom in the migrant communities.

Ghanaian pilgrims find in the kola export an important source of foreign exchange when they arrive in Saudi Arabia for the month-long stay in that country. There is a ready market for the stimulant in Saudi Arabia but for those who are unlucky, their smuggled stuff are seized upon arrival as they face the full rigours of the local law diplomatic pressure from their countries.

Innocent pilgrims have unknowingly carried the stuff in their luggage having been made carriers by their relatives.

One such pilgrim from Tamale the PRO said was saved from embarrassment when a relative enclosed the banned stuff in her luggage. When she was alerted to the fact that it is a banned stuff, she could only exclaim; she was saved from the hassle and possible imprisonment in Saudi Arabia.

The Pilgrims Office have mounted a serious campaign doing checks on the luggage of pilgrims before they embark on the aircraft.

Source: A.R. Gomda

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