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Hajj Pilgrims Stranded in Jeddah

2005-01-13 14:20:13
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The woes of Ghanaian Muslim Pilgrims who were finally airlifted last Sunday to Saudi Arabia for their annual Hajj are still not over.

Reports from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia say that about 800 pilgrims are stranded at the Jeddah Airport over the non-payment of service fees to the Saudi authorities.

The payment according to the stranded pilgrims is the responsibility of the organisers of the hajj- in this case, the Hajj Board.

A member of the stranded pilgrims, Kwaku Ahmed told Joy News that the Saudi authorities are insisting that unless the service charge of 280 dollars per pilgrim is paid, they will not be allowed to go to Mecca to perform the annual Hajj.

“We paid an amount of $1690 was paid by every pilgrim to the Hajj Board and within that amount $280 had to be paid to the Saudi Government as service fees but when they arrive at the airport the amount was not paid for the 800 people who came”, Kwaku Ahmed said.

Kwaku Ahmed said the situation has placed the pilgrims in an awkward situation. According to him most of the pilgrims have run out of money. The rather cold weather is also said to be taking a toll on the stranded pilgrims.

“We are now stranded here, we have no food to eat and the aged among us are very sick and we want the government to set up a committee to investigate where the money went to” he said.

Before the first batch of pilgrims left for Jeddah on Sunday, they were compelled to endure some inconveniences after the organisers failed to airlift them as scheduled. The pilgrims say this is the last straw.

Story: Sena Atoklo
....Board Explains Situation

The Chairman of the Hajj Board, Alhaji Abdul Nangtomah has been explaining circumstances under which Ghanaian Muslim Pilgrims were stranded at the Jeddah International Airport in Saudi Arabia.

The Pilgrims risked not performing the Hajj because the organizers failed to pay the Saudi Authorities an amount of 280 dollars for each pilgrim as a service fee.

As a result the Saudi authorities detained about 800 of the pilgrims for four days.

The Hajj Board Chairman said the Board does not make a one off payment for the service fee that is charged adding that the situation has been rectified to ensure that the Pilgrims perform the Hajj.

“We have paid a sum of $415, 350 and that amount has been able to clear all those who previously went, after that, all those who went after that were not cleared because the balance had come to nil and all we needed to do was to top it up, which we have arranged to do”, he said

Mr. Nangtomah said the board had initially paid for 1,500 people and as they give out visa’s they also issue the cheque to the embassy there and they pay on an installment basis and now need to top up about not less than 700.

He said the board is trying to talk to the Saudi Embassy to find the quickest way of informing them that payment has been done stressing that because of the emergency they are faxing a copy of the payment list to the Consul General to assist in clearing the stranded pilgrims.

source: ghanaweb

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