A tour operator has offered Nigerian Muslims a cheaper package for the 2017 Hajj, with fares lower than what the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, has approved for state pilgrim Boards.
The commission had announced fares for many states at the ongoing state Muslim Pilgrims’ Welfare boards, agencies and commissions meeting at NAHCON headquarters in Abuja.
Nasarawa pilgrims for instance are to pay N1,544,894.16 for this year’s hajj, while Niger pilgrims are expected to pay N1,525,483.30, Kaduna, N1,535,503.68, Kano, N1,537,859.97, Adamawa, N1,530,101.08 and Yobe N1,520,101.18.
The packages include $800 Basic Travel Allowance, BTA. An official of the commission, however, said the packages exclude hadaya (sacrificial ram) fees, which has been fixed at N38, 000 for this year’s exercise.
But, HASHA Travel and Tour, one of NAHCON’s approved tour operators, is offering N1.250 million fare with 500 US dollars pocket money, according to the firm’s flyers in circulation.
The date of departure from Abuja with an Ethiopian Airline to Medina is August 22, while the return date is September 8 via Jedda. The fare however does not include feeding.
Yasir Nabingo, a sales representative of HASHA, told PREMIUM TIMES the fare was meant to secure future patronage.
“The accommodation for our pilgrims close to haram in Madina will be at ALIMA Hotel, while that of Madina will be at Alkunuzi in Makkah,” he said.
Baba Mohammed Chairman of the HASHA Travel and Tour, while explaining the low fare by the tour travel agency to our reporter on Thursday, said pilgrims also have an option of collecting $300 to go for medical screening at Saudi German hospital.
“The fare is exactly N1.250 million and a pilgrim has an option of collecting $300 and go for medical screening at Saudi German at a cost of $200 instead of the Hospital rate of $250.
“Secondly, the package is just for two weeks, this brings down the cost of hotel unlike the states that will be there for about four weeks.
“Thirdly, the cost of flight tickets is about $1,000 which is lower than the states Air fare. Again, no feeding except in Mina and Arafat amongst other things that made their cost to be lower than that of NAHCON,” the chairman added.
Many intending pilgrims who spoke to our reporter said they will prefer to perform the exercise through their various state boards despite the higher fare.
“The travel tour fare is reasonable, but it does not cover all the package that includes feeding, Hadaya and accommodation for four weeks and free medical care,” Abubakar Musa, an intending pilgrim in Kaduna, said.
Another intending pilgrim, Salamatu Sani, however said she would opt for the travel tour package that guaranteed her travel for two weeks because of the nature of her job.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this report incorrectly attributed the comment by Baba Mohammed of HASHA Travel and Tour to Abdullahi Mukhtar, the head of NAHCON.