By Abdallah el-Kurebe, Editor
Independent Hajj Reporters, a civil society organisation that monitors and reports hajj activities commends States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare boards for maintaining hajj fare within N1.5 million in spite of the increased in some hajj services in Saudi Arabia.
This was contained in a statement jointly signed by its national coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed and publicity secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud and made available to Newsdiaryonline Tuesday.
“The breakdown of the 2019 hajj fare shows that each pilgrim that paid N1.5 million will collect $800, an equivalent of (N288,400) as Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), two pairs of suitcases that cost N16,000:00 and a set of uniform that cost N4,000.
“Also, each pilgrim will be fed twice for 35 days which costs about N85,000. The remaining cost of the hajj package covers: Pilgrims accommodation in Makkah for 35 days, Madina 7 – 8 days, Return air ticket, transportation within Saudi Arabia which has been increased by 70% by the authorities in the holy land as well as hajj services in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa.
“The return air ticket that used to cost $1,750 dollar has now been bargained downward to $1,550. The Pilgrims accommodation in Madina has also been brought down by $50.
“Analysis of the breakdown shows that there is no increase in any component service that falls within the scope of states Muslim pilgrims’ welfare boards or National Hajj Commission of Nigeria.
For example, the states Muslim pilgrim’s welfare boards that hitherto pay SR4, 000 for accommodation in Makkah are now to pay between SR3, 750 to SR3, 700 for the same accommodation,” the statement read.
The group added that this year, Saudi Arabia increased the cost of transportation by 70%.
“While Nigeria hajj stakeholders were able to peg down the cost of some hajj services, the 70% increment in the cost of transportation by Saudi Arabia has affected 2019 hajj fare worldwide.
“Countries like Gambia, Pakistan, Cameroun and Bangladesh saw their 2019 hajj fare increased by 70% – 80%.
“Pakistan increased 2019 Hajj fare by Rs 1,56,975. In 2018. Pakistani pilgrims paid Rs2,70,000 last year, while, this year, they will pay Rs4,26,000.
“While reacting to a protest by Pakistanis over the increase, the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said that 70 per cent of the newly-revised price of Hajj covers expenses in Saudi Arabia and is beyond the government’s control,” it added.
According to him “Due to a 50 per cent increase in the expenses incurred in Saudi Arabia during the pilgrimage, the government had to raise the price of the Hajj package. He stated that the rent of buildings increased from Rs60,900 to Rs94,185 while the cost of transportation increased from Rs9,000 to Rs13,104 and food charges rose from Rs23,000 to Rs38000”.
Also, on 2nd May this year, it was published by Journal du cameroun.com that Some Islamic Associations in Cameroon had denounced the over 300,000 CFA 2019 Hajj cost increase.
According to the Association of Young Muslims of Cameroon and the “Croissant Lunaire” Commission, the 2019 Hajj candidates will have to spend 2,529,000 CFA, with an increase of 287,000 CFA, compared to last year. Due to the outcry in Cameroon, President Paul Biya approved the sum of XAF1 billion subsidy to Cameroon Hajj body.
The Subsidy is to cope with the XAF287,000 CFA increase per pilgrim, Instead of XAF2,529,000, each pilgrim will now pay only XAF2,242,000.
“Gambia saw 85% increase of it’s hajj cost. The country’s 2019 hajj fare is GMB 323,000:00 (USD6.500) arguably the highest in Africa.
Again, Dhakar tribune of 19th of May reported that Bangladesh 2019 Hajj expenses goes up by Tk24,645.
Briefing the media after meeting with parliament, Shafiul Alam, the head of Bangladesh Hajj mission, said that the cost for Hajj package-1 has been set at Tk4,18,500 and package-2 at Tk3,44,000 for 2019 hajj.
Last year, the cost of package-1 was Tk397,929 and of package-2 was Tk319,355.
This means that the Bangladesh government’s Hajj package-1 rose by Tk20,571 while that of package-2 rose by Tk24,645 in 2019.
It was on the basis of the above that IHR commends Nigerian Hajj Stakeholders for maintaining the 2018 hajj cost template despite obvious increase in some vital hajj components from Saudi Arabia.