Chairman of the Hajj Board, Sheikh I.C Quaye, in assuring prospective pilgrims for a memorable Hajj in 2018, said they are expected to pay a fare of GH¢15,000.00 instead of GH¢19,500.00. as the ideal fare.
According to the Chairman, the caring government of the country has subsidized GH¢4,500 of the cost to pave way for as many as pilgrims to make it to this year’s Hajj.
He made the pronouncement at the official launch of the 2018 Hajj season at the Hajj Village in Accra, adding that, the board would strictly allow only a direct full payment into the Hajj Account with Unibank Ghana.
Sheikh I.C Quaye reiterated that, the deadline for payment is 30 June 2018, which is in conformity with the directives given by the Saudi authorities. Therefore, the board shall by no means condone any form of delay in the payments thus, the delays often makes the entire process difficult.
The board, he said, would only deal with those who would abide by the directives with regards to the deadline. And was quick to add that, there would be no extension of the deadline for payment or what soever.
He further stressed that, only Pilgrims who would pay up in full before the deadline would be airlifted, as to whether the 5,400 quota expected to be in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for this year’s hajj has been attained or not.
However, Sheikh Quaye advised all would-be pilgrims as a matter of urgency, to start making payments without any delay for there shall not be extensions at all.
He also noted that, pilgrims performing the Hajj more than once would pay a penalty of GHȼ3,000.00 upfront before the issuance of Visa, in order to prevent multiple performances, which is in line with the Saudi authorities.
He also revealed that, Hajj fares keep increasing due to the introduction of some new policies like; the 5% VAT on goods and services, due to the diversification of the Saudi economy and its consequential implications, increase in social amenities including accommodation, transport, flight fares, catering and general service fees, which would definitely have diverse effects on transactions and other services.
However, with the reductions in taxes and interventions, he said pilgrims from Ghana are paying the lowest fare of all.
Sheikh added that, medical teams assigned with the responsibility to manage affairs and provide proper healthcare needs of pilgrims both in Ghana and in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia would begin its activities with a health screening exercise, to ensure pilgrims are physically fit throughout their stay in Mecca.
And also with the new immigration policy by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, pilgrims would undergo finger-print data collection here in Ghana before they are airlifted.
Meanwhile, he sounded a warning that, in avoidance of any form of jail term, pilgrims should eschew travelling with prohibited items, and as well as human trafficking.
By Sammy Adjei