The Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), a civil society organization that monitors and reports Hajj and Umrah in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, has called on the appointed Hajj Carriers for 2023 Hajj to brace up for quality and timely airlifts of Nigeria intending pilgrims.
Ibrahim Muhammed, IHR national coordinator, who disclosed this in a statement in Abuja on Saturday, said Airlift operations differ from the routine international or local flights accustomed to by the selected Airliners especially the new entrants – Air Peace, Arik Air, Aero Contractors and Value Air Jet.
‘’Hajj is tied to the day of Arafat and the day of Arafat is not amenable to change like other worldly events that can be delayed or postponed.
‘’Airlift of Pilgrims constitutes the core aspect of hajj operations because Hajj takes place in Saudi Arabia – as such all registered intending pilgrims must be flown to the holy land to perform the spiritual exercise,’’ Muhammed said.
He urged the selected Airliners to realise that delays would amount to denying the intending pilgrims the opportunity to perform rituals of the hajj as and when due.
He called on the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), the apex hajj regulatory body, to ensure full implementations of all the service agreements with the airliners, adding that plans should be on ground to replace erring airliners.
‘’NAHCON should understand that Nigerians and Hajj stakeholders will hold them responsible if they fail to act when service providers fail in delivering their assigned responsibilities,’’ he said.
Muhammed also called on the traditional Air Carriers to avoid using one plane in carrying intending pilgrims from two or three countries during hajj operations.
‘’They should know that no one benefits when the order of the day is cutting corners, struggling to ferry Tour Operators pilgrims within the allotted time granted to Hajj participating countries to airlift States pilgrims.’’
He commended NAHCON for increasing the numbers of hajj carriers for states Pilgrims and also adding a different set of airliners to ferry Tour operators’ pilgrims.
‘’Such move will create an environment for healthy competition that will be in the interests of timely airlift of Nigerian pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 2023 hajj exercises.
‘’However, NAHCON, States Muslim Pilgrims Boards and Hajj and Umrah Operators should work together in order to streamline the airlift operations to avoid the confused mode of airlift witnessed in 2022 hajj,’’ he said.
INDEPENDENT HAJJ REPORTERS
APRIL 10, 2023