NAHCON reviews 2019 hajj, Umrah operations
The review meetings was chaired by the Commission’s Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Barrister Abdullah Mukhtar at NAHCON’s new headquarters, The Hajj House.
Stakeholders who attend the review meeting are the Chief Executives of Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards/Agencies/Commissions (SPWB/A/Cs), NAHCON Board members and Licensed Tour Operators.
A statement by Head, Public Affairs, National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), Fatima Usara Sanda said the gathering acknowledged the improvements made in the 2019 Hajj operations and in order to sustain the successes so far achieved, there was a call to maintain the spirit of teamwork and consultations.
Sanda said the stakeholders have agreed that funds for booking of lodgings would be deposited early and directly to building owners for cheaper bargains and during operations, each state must deploy a minimum of one official to Medina in advance of its pilgrims’ arrival for smoother coordination.
She said the Commission lamented the several requests for extension of the deadline for registration as compounding the Mina congestion problem.
Therefore NAHCON cautioned both state boards and Licensed Tour Operators to abide by early registration and to stick to deadlines. The Commission assured that if this arrangement is respected, there is certainty that service providers in Saudi Arabia will reserve adequate space for pilgrims as requested in a formal communication.
Sanda added that, it is in relation to this that the Commission approved the status quo to be maintained on remittance of Hajj fare; the deadline for closure of registration will be announced in due course. Intending pilgrims are to deposit about N1.5m in three installments to their states’ pilgrims’ boards in the bank draft.
She said, due to a number of complaints received from pilgrims on services being rendered not being commensurate with package paid for. Measures have been taken to ensure that Licensed Tour Operators serve pilgrims with the package they paid for. Towards this, the Commission will define types of packages available and the cost of each. The packages will be publicised in the mass media.
Consequent upon this, state boards and Licensed Tour Operators must register all their pilgrims on the e-portal and particulars of the intending pilgrim be supplied on the portal.
The Commission will not tolerate pilgrims being registered on portals other than that which it is created for. This deviation has hitherto remained an impediment to reliable data bank for security reasons, research and reference purposes.
Similarly, Tour Operators have up to November 30th to submit online application forms for the 2020 Hajj license to avoid disqualification.
It was resolved that SPWBs will be allowed to conduct Umrah operations to boost their revenue generation at the state level. However, they must have dedicated and certified staff to run the Umrah services. They must also run separate accounts for Hajj and Umrah and NAHCON will monitor the accounts to ensure full compliance and proper utilization of the funds.
Other complaints were tabled and treated accordingly.
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