The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, on Saturday assured intending pilgrims for this year’s Hajj that there would not be further increase in the fare payable.
The chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, gave the assurance at the opening of a one day workshop, organised by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, in collaboration with NAHCON in Abuja.
He said that in spite of the 250 dollar increment imposed by the air carriers, the commission would not impose the extra cost on the pilgrims.
“It is true that the air carriers have increased the charges by 250 dollars, because of the closure of the Sudanese airspace.
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“Though we are still consulting to find an avenue to address the increase, whatever decision that we may arrive at, it won’t impact or require the pilgrims to pay additional charges.”
The chairman also expressed dismay at the additional 63 dollar charges for camp and electronic applications in visa processing cost by the Ministry of Hajj.
This, according to him, is contrary to what had earlier been agreed by the two parties that there won’t be any extra cost at the pre-Hajj meeting.
“Though, we have written to protest this, and we are hoping for a positive response despite that we bore the cost without transferring same to the pilgrims.”
Hassan, however, prayed for the peaceful resolution of the Sudan crisis to save the lives of the innocent Sudanese.
He urged all feuding parties to sheath their swords in the interest of Islam, the innocent pilgrims and the country.
In a similar vein, the Independent Hajj Reporters, a Civil Society Organisation, that monitors and reports Hajj and Umrah activities, appealed to the federal and state governments to subsidize the differences in the prices of air tickets of Nigerian pilgrims.
The National Coordinator of the CSO, Ibrahim Muhammad, who made the appeal in a statement on Saturday, urged the federal and state governments to liaise with NAHCON to settle the differences for the respective number of pilgrims from the states.
“Having paid the approved hajj fare, we know Nigerian prospective pilgrims will have to pay the differences in the air tickets, if time permits.
“But we are worried that with less than 10 days to the commencement of transportation of the Nigerian pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, asking pilgrims to pay the difference at this time will definitely derail the exercise.
“We appeal that the federal government takes 50 per cent, while states pay the balance of 50 per cent, for the number of intending pilgrims from their states.