The Ghana Agents Association (GAA) have taken the issue of the 452 persons who although paid to be airlifted to perform last year’s Hajj, were unable to do so.
In a petition signed by the GAA’s Chairman, Alhaj Issah Umar Suleiman, the agents are demanding of the president to intervene so that the reconstituted Hajj Board under the Chairmanship of Sheikh IC Quaye, ensures that the 452 persons are airlifted during the forthcoming Hajj season. “We seek your intervention to get the reconstituted Hajj Board, under the leadership of Honourable Sheikh IC Quaye, to make adequate provision for the airlifting of the pilgrims numbering four hundred and fifty-two this year without any obligation to make any or other payment,” GAA demanded.
The association is asking that in view of the pain suffered by the pilgrims, they be accorded priority when the airlifting commences and for the agents to be paid their outstanding commissions.
According to the agents, an amount of GH¢11,900.00 was paid by each pilgrim to the board through them (agents). Additionally, “Each passenger paid two hundred Ghana Cedis for a universal bag. Therefore in respect of the Hajj organized last year, we mobilized about 90% of the total passengers on behalf of the Hajj Board.”
They continued, “We regret to say that out of this number, the Hajj Board failed and/or refused to transport four hundred and fifty-two (452) pilgrims, even though they had each paid a total amount of GH¢12,000 to the Hajj Board.”
The petition indicated that total amount received from the pilgrims left behind last year was GH¢5,469,200, adding that “although the then Chairman of the Board, Alhaji Abdul Rauf Ibrahim Tanko, on several occasions promised full refund to us for onward payment to these pilgrims, this is yet to be fulfilled.”
The association claims to have come under intense pressure from pilgrims who could not make the Hajj last year, explaining further that the Board is also indebted to its members on account of commissions due and payable to each passenger.
One of the teething challenges of the Hajj operations has been the inability to deal once and for all with the backlog of prospective passengers. The problem has existed over the past years, defying solutions to deal with it.
A couple of years ago, saddled with another set of passengers who could not make it, Alhaji Tanko arranged to have them airlifted gradually so eventually the backlog would be cleared.
It did not work out as he planned it. The cycle of passengers being unable to make the Hajj is triggered by multiple factors, some of which by no means the only, Hajj observers claim is the practice of government’s so-called ‘protocol list’ which affects the planning of the Board.
By A.R. Gomda