By Abubakar Muhammad
National Hajj Commission of Nigeria,NAHCON, said claim by a tour operator to offer Nigerian Muslims a cheaper package for 2017 Hajj, is not true.
HASHA Travel and Tour, one of NAHCON’s approved tour operators, is offering N1.250 million fare with 500 US dollars pocket money, according to the firm’s flyers in circulation.
The date of departure from Abuja with an Ethiopian Airline to Medina is August 22, while the return date is September 8 via Jedda. The fare however does not include feeding.
Baba Mohammed Chairman of the HASHA Travel and Tour, while explaining the low fare by the tour travel agency , said pilgrims also have an option of collecting $300 to go for medical screening at Saudi German hospital.
“The fare is exactly N1.250 million and a pilgrim has an option of collecting $300 and go for medical screening at Saudi German at a cost of $200 instead of the Hospital rate of $250.
“Secondly, the package is just for two weeks, this brings down the cost of hotel unlike the states that will be there for about four weeks.
“Thirdly, the cost of flight tickets is about $1,000 which is lower than the states Air fare. Again, no feeding except in Mina and Arafat among other things that made the cost to be lower than that of NAHCON,” the chairman added.
But, Abdullahi Mukhtar, Chairman of NAHCON ,while responding to the claim of the agency by a Senator during a discussion the N1.5m approved Hajj fare on “Ra’ayi Riga Ne” a British Broadcasting Corporation , BBC Hausa programme monitored on Fridaynight in Kaduna, said such claim is far from reality and cannot be true.
“We had a meeting with the company that advertised N1.25million package. The company has no contract document with Ethiopian Airline. The company has no contract agreement in Makkah or Madinah,” he said.
The NAHCON chairmen $1,000 Ethiopian Airline ticket fare as claimed in the tour agency’s flyer is also not realistic.
He said online purchase of Ethiopian Airline ticket to Saudi Arabia from July ending to August is placed at $1,700.
” I spoke with Ethiopian airline, they said the have not offered to anybody the 2017 Hajj fare ticket,” he maintained.
He said 98% of Hajj fare is determined in US dollars, hence it contributed to the approved N1.5million fare by the commission which include airline ticket, accommodation component in Madinah and Makkah, Muna, Arafat and Muzdhalifa. Other components include transport , feeding and Basic Travel Allowance.
Mr. Mukhtar said Airline ticket for each intending pilgrim from Northern States is $1,600 , “with a slit difference of about $50 less for intending pilgrims from Borno and Adamawa states. The ticket for those from the entire Southern part of the country is $1,700.”
He added that, $933 is for accommodation per intending pilgrim in Makkah, while $430 is charged for Madinah.
The commission had announced fares for many states at the ongoing state Muslim Pilgrims’ Welfare boards, agencies and commissions meeting at NAHCON headquarters in Abuja.
Nasarawa pilgrims for instance are to pay N1,544,894.16 for this year’s hajj, while Niger pilgrims are expected to pay N1,525,483.30, Kaduna, N1,535,503.68, Kano, N1,537,859.97, Adamawa, N1,530,101.08 and Yobe N1,520,101.18.
The packages include $800 Basic Travel Allowance, BTA. An official of the commission, however, said the packages exclude hadaya (sacrificial ram) fees, which has been fixed at N38, 000 for this year’s exercise.
Senator Ahmed Misau who is among the discussants, called on the Federal Government to look into the issue of high exchange rate of the US dollar that constituted main reason for the hick.
” This 2017 Hajj fare must be reduced in order to alleviate the suffering of intending pilgrims and to afford them the opportunity to fulfil one of the five pillars of Islam,” he said.