Follow Up On MoU Meeting
National Hajj Commission of Nigeria has continued to meet with various stakeholders in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in preparation for 2020 Hajj. In a meeting on 9th of December with Genenral Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), the head of the Saudi delegation, Engr Mazin Bazhair, reiterated to NAHCON representatives the necessity for a speedy start of preparations as scheduling of airlift slots will commence forty days from the date of that meeting while Hajj flight will commence on 22nd of June, 2020.
Authorities of the Kingdom have introduced new policies in some sectors of the Hajj 2020 operations. In an e-track meeting in Jeddah on Sunday 15th of December 2019, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah representative informed the NAHCON delegation that henceforth, Adhahi sacrifice, otherwise known as Hadaya will be integrated into e-Hajj with a standardized price to ensure that all pilgrims pay same amount globally. Towards this end, Naqaba, a special office to improve the system together with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah are overseeing arrangements that will promote transparency in the operations and will be prepared to apply solutions to observed lapses. Moreover, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and the Islamic Development Bank are to collaborate and agree on a common price for the Hajj sacrificial animals. All animals for the sacrifice must be sourced from animal farms genuinely observing safety measures in order to avoid any outbreak of disease.
The representative additionally disclosed that the Saudi government is going to transfer or rather outsource the Hadaya services to well organized service providers who will not compromise standard. A leading establishment saddled with overseeing the project is to present a comprehensive report to the government at the end of the year. Again, for any service not well rendered, complaint ticket will be available so that the matter will be channelled to the appropriate office for prompt action or refund. Customer service delivery is key and must be rendered wholly to the pilgrims, he revealed.
As has been the case, regulation stipulating that clinics cannot be opened in the Kingdom untill Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health gives permission after due inspection. In the absence of this permit, all medical concerns will be taken care of by the Saudi government. This was disclosed during the e-track meeting in Jeddah. A company specialized with medical waste management will be engaged to deal with that aspect of health care administration.
Meanwhile, in its preparatory meeting with office of United Agents (U.A) in Jeddah, NAHCON solicited cooperation of the U.A in remitting Licensed Tour Operators’ refunds directly to their accounts instead of Hajj Commission’s account. Refunds are normally made for services not rendered to pilgrims to NAHCON’s International Bank Account Number (IBAN) that NAHCON in turn sought out to different State Pilgrims Welfare Boards and to Tour Operators. However, the Commission now demands U.A to credit the refunds directly to accounts of Tour Operators licensed with the Commission as they already have their IBAN accounts. This will make it easier for the operators to remit the refunds to their entitled pilgrims.
NAHCON also tabled a request demanding its pilgrims to spend fewer hours in Madinah airport while also requesting permission for more bilingual staff to be stationed in the airport for smoother communication. Acting Chairman of NAHCON further renewed his appeal for inclusion of more Nigerian legal residents among the United Agent’s workforce. This followed information that there are a few already employed by the U.A office. The U.A assured that though law restricts them, they will consider the proposal even if for the Hajj duration only. It was agreed that the Nigerian consulate in Saudi Arabia would follow up on the matter.
At the same time, in another meeting with Adillah Establishment in Madinah, the Acting Chairman equally informed the gathering of the newly nominated NAHCON board waiting for senate confirmation. He made a prayer for the same support and cooperation to be extended to the new board.
The bedevilling security issue in Madinah was put forward to the Adilla to which they emphasised on the need for more sensitization to be carried out by the relevant Hajj managers in Nigeria.
On Licensed Tour Operators, the Adilla Establishment lamented that the sector be as organised as the state pilgrims are. It was observed by the Adilla that in other countries, the Tour Operators’ sector is more organised contrary to the Nigerian experience. Therefore, it was resolved that members from NAHCON, Tour Operators’ representatives and members from Adilla Establishment will deliberate and proffer possible solutions to the problem.
The Chairman of Adilla prayed for the best for Acting Chairman Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad in his future engagements adding that the Hajj industry will miss his expertise.
Fatima Sanda Usara,
Head, Public Affairs