Posted by Rafiq A. Tschannen
Accra, Oct 14, GNA – No Muslim pilgrim is stranded at the Hajj Village in Accra, Alhaji Halidu Haruna, Public Relation Officer of the National Hajj Committee (NHC), Ghana, said on Sunday to refute media allegations.
This is contrary to media speculations that some pilgrims for the 2012 Hajj are stranded at the Hajj Village in Accra.
Alhaji Haruna explained that those still at the village comprised people who were affected by the new Hajj law; people who paid late to their agents and those whose visas were mistaken for others by the Saudi Arabian Embassy.
The PRO made these known when he addressed the intended pilgrims at the newly constructed Hajj Village near the Kotoka International Airport.
The Saudi authorities had introduced and implemented a law, which bans intended female pilgrims, who are less than 45 years of age to enter the country without being accompanied by a relative, spouse or guardian.
The new law was passed when Ghana had already dispatched 4,438 pilgrims in 14 flights. The law took effect when the 15th flight was ready to fly to Saudi Arabia.
Alhaji Haruna said the deadline for payment of this year’s Hajj was August 31st 2012 in addition to a two-day grace period, adding “Intended pilgrims who pay after the grace period cannot make it to Hajj.”
He said another problem the Committee identified was that female pictures scanned were used to processed visas for male passports by the Saudi embassy. This, he said, had caused a lot of problems for the Committee and added that the Saudi Embassy was rectifying the anomalies.
Alhaji Haruna said the Committee had signed an agreement with Egypt Air to airlift the Ghanaian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia on 18-return flights, with each airlifting 317 pilgrims. This will bring the total to 5,706 instead of a national quota of 5,700.
“A schedule flight would be arranged to airlift the few remaining pilgrims who have paid early and not yet gone and those who are not affected by the new law,” he assured.
Alhaji Haruna said pilgrims, who rush to the media to make allegations against the NHC, should tell the media the truth: “Those who rush to the media are those who have paid late and would not tell the media the truth that they have paid late”.
He appealed to pilgrims to exercise restraint as the NHC work hard to resolve the anomalies with the Saudi Embassy. “If a pilgrim falls within the categories that have been identified by the NHC, he will definitely perform the Hajj on 25th October (Arafa). We still have two weeks more to the date.”
According to an official timetable obtained by the GNA, Hajj is expected to fall between October 24 and 29. Hijri dates for 1433H (2012) Hajj and Umrah seasons are as follows:
The first day of arrival in the Kingdom for pilgrims was September 27th, whilst the last date for arrival of pilgrims in the Kingdom by air at the King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, or at the Prince Muhammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport, Madina, would be October 20th.
The last date for pilgrims to travel from Jeddah to Madina by bus was October 11th and last date for pilgrims to travel from Jeddah to Madina by air is October 18, while the last date for pilgrims to travel from Madina to Makkah by bus (before Hajj) is October 21.
The last date for pilgrims to travel from Madina to Jeddah by air (before Hajj) is October 22, with the final date for departure (return trip) being November 29.
Ghana’s Hajj village was relocated to the Kotoka International Airport area following the Allied Air Cargo Boeing 727-200 crash at the original Village near the El-Wak Sports Stadium.
GHANA NEWS AGENCY