Pilgrims for the 2019 hajj will have no option than to bear the exorbitant hajj fare charged this year by government.
The Pilgrimage Affairs Office of Ghana (PAOG), in collaboration with the Hajj Agents Association, has pegged this year’s Hajj pilgrimage fare at 19,500 cedis, an equivalent of 3,500 US dollars. The amount represents a 23 per cent (GH¢ 4,500) increment from last year's fare which was 15,000 cedis.
The announcement was made by the chairman of the PAOG, Sheikh I.C. Quaye, at a press conference at the Hajj Village in Accra. The announcement however, means that all would- be pilgrims this year, will have to raise the huge amount to be able to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This has since sparked controversy among the Muslim Ummah and a cross section of the Ghanaian public.
But speaking on Zaa Major News yesterday, the Northern sector communication officer of the Hajj board, Alhaji Eliasu Haruna has defended the fare and finds nothing wrong with it.
He indicated that the new fare could have been higher but for the intervention of the government to make it affordable for more people to be able to perform this year’s Hajj. He bemoaned the increment of tariffs, tax, wages and the exchange rate, among others, which resulted in the high fee charged.
He said Ghanaian pilgrims should be grateful, as Ghana’s hajj fee has been the lowest juxtaposing it with other African countries.
On his part, a former spokesperson for the hajj board, Alhaji Alhassan Suhiyini disagreed with the excuses given by Alhaji Eliasu.
Alhaji Suhiyini finds it disappointing for a government which made a campaign promise to relieve the Muslim Ummah from their tribulations, to charge such exorbitant hajj fares.
He noted that the government has a responsibility to manage the cedi to create a stable economy for all and therefore it’s needless to cite the exchange rate as a basis to charge such amount of money.