Hundreds of prospective Hajj pilgrims, who are stuck at the Hajj village in Accra, have expressed fears their trip might just fall through.
Some of them who spoke to Citi News, even accuses the organizers of sending non-Muslims and business men and women to Saudi Arabia, only to do business and not to perform the ritual.
“All our monies are paid through the banks and if you know your quota, why is it that people are allowed to pay more and left stranded here? You know this year’s is even much worst than every other year because as at yesterday [Tuesday], about 700 people were down here,” One Pilgrim told Citi News.
The Hajj Board has been largely commended for drastically reducing the chaos, frustrations and drama that usually characterize the trips to Mecca in the last few years.
The biggest improvement was when prospective pilgrims in the Northern Region, flew directly from the Tamale Airport into Saudi Arabia in a bid to reduce the congestion and confusion in Accra.
But down back in Accra, hundreds are still at the Hajj Village waiting for their turn. They say they are losing hope and promises are gradually becoming empty. According the Pilgrims, the board promised they will all be airlifted latest by 21st August, but that is yet to happen after ten days, as they grow increasingly impatient.
“I want to suggest to the Hajj Board that in future they should look at those who have not performed the ritual and give them priority because it’s a religious duty next to those who want to go for the second time; but what bothers me is that, we go there to worship but priority is given to those who are going to do business and that is very Un-Islamic,” said a worried prospective pilgrim.
This year, pilgrims were expected to pay $3,500 or its equivalent of GHc11, 900.
Attempts to reach some members of the Hajj Board for comments on this matter, have so far proved futile. However, in an earlier interview, the deputy communications director of the Hajj Committee, Alhaji Mohammed Amin Lamptey, said a total of 11 flights have been scheduled to fly out would be pilgrims.
Another worried lady complained about her blind mother who was being accompanied by her 46 year old sister, was repatriated from Mecca on grounds that she had no male relative.
“My mother is blind and when they went to Mecca, my sister was not told by the agent that she had been paired with another man because she always goes on the pilgrimage alone; She got there only to realize that some under-age girls had been dressed up as adults to join the pilgrimage; but because she was not with any man, the authorities asked her to come back to Ghana to look for a relative before being allowed back,” she told Citi News.
She is however worried that there is no one in Mecca to take care of her mother who cannot see her way around.
“My sister’s money has also not been refunded because the authorities claim unless they return from Mecca; she has also lost about five bags on this trip.
On sanitation at the Hajj Village, Citi News noticed that, the bathrooms were inadequate. The bathroom water also run through the stones on which the pilgrims laid their mats to rest; as there were neither chairs nor benches for them to sit on.
They are however unperturbed about these conditions. They simply want to travel to Mecca.
By: Lorrencia Nkrumah/citifmonline.com/Ghana