The scheduled day for airlifting would-be pilgrims from the Tamale Airport suffered some challenges that left the pilgrims stranded.
The first batch of pilgrims were scheduled to have left to undertake the religious exercise in Mecca last Thursday, but they could not leave due to technical challenges with their flight.
However, a Jumbo aircraft, with a capacity of carrying 506 passengers, on Sunday began airlifting the pilgrims from Tamale Airport, with a second aircraft with the same capacity waiting on the tarmac to lift the others.
The first aircraft, which left yesterday morning, is expected to return for the last batch of pilgrims later today.
Head of Communications for the Hajj Board, Alhaji A.R. Gomda, told The Finder that the board was working around the clock to complete airlifting the over 3,000 potential pilgrims from Tamale today.
He indicated that airlifting of pilgrims in Accra will begin on Thursday, August 17, 2017 at the Kotoka International Airport.
He was also confident that the board would complete airlifting all 6,200 potential pilgrims from Ghana by Tuesday, August, 22.
As part of measures to effectively deliver on the set timelines, Alhaji Gomda said eight aircrafts have been scheduled to airlift the pilgrims in Accra.
Reasons for the delay
According the Head of Communications, some of the challenges encountered initially that resulted in the delays were due to non-conformity with travel rules.
He explained that in some cases, some elderly people had challenges providing their passports while others had challenges filling out their immigration forms.
In other instances, he said, some potential pilgrims had too many luggage, which further caused delays.
The conduct of this year’s Hajj was billed to face some serious challenges after it emerged that the previous administration left behind a huge debt to be cleared by the new administration.
It also emerged that about 425 potential pilgrims who had fully paid for the trip during the last pilgrimage could not make the trip nor were their monies refunded to them.
At a ceremony to bid the pilgrims farewell in Tamale, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia hinted that government has paid off the accumulated debt left behind by the previous Hajj Board administration.
The current board pegged the debt burden left behind by the previous administration at GH¢23 million.