Some prospective Hajj Pilgrims say they have been handed a raw deal by the National Hajj Board in the amount expected to be paid by pilgrims for this year’s Hajj.
According to the aggrieved prospective pilgrims, the Hajj Board led by Sheikh Ibrahim Cudjoe Quaye has breached an agreement it consented to in 2020 and 2022 when the annual pilgrimage was suspended due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having already made payments for their trip when the pandemic broke out, the prospective pilgrims say they signed an agreement with the board to have their monies kept and not refunded.
This agreement among other things was to ensure that their eventual trip to Mecca will not come with any extra payment demands on them regardless of a change in the fees and charges.
According to them, Sheikh I. C. Quaye and the Chairman of the Ghana Hajj Agents Association in a joint communique assured that “pilgrims who via their agents, wish to retain their hajj fee deposits with the hajj board (for 2020 hajj), will be exempted from paying any increment in the hajj fare for 2022.”
Contrary to the agreement, the group say the board is now demanding on them to make an extra payment of GHC7,000 to make up for the balance of GHC39,000 which is now the current charge per pilgrim.
“The Hajj Board Ghana has pulled out all the stops to make the financial expenditure much more accommodating. Again, we emphasise that with the government effort, we have arrived at a Hajj fee of GH¢39,000 for new pilgrims.
“The Hajj Board agreed that Ghanaian pilgrims who kept their fee deposits with us in 2020 and did not opt for a refund when Hajj was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 to pay GH¢26,500 which requires a top-up of GH¢7,500 only. The Board has duly taken note of their faith in wanting to perform Hajj whenever a date was announced,” Sheikh. I. C. Quaye announcing the fees for this year’s pilgrimage noted.
According to the Hajj Board Chair, Ghanaians Pilgrims are having a fair deal as pilgrims from neighbouring countries are being made to pay a relatively higher fee.
“In the neighbouring states: Nigerian Muslims are paying a fee of N2.5 million equivalent to GH¢47,000. Ivory Coast, Benin and Niger, their figures are in the same ballpark,” he stated.
This however has not been received well by the pilgrims who paid their fees in 2020 and 2021 as the demand to pay extra signifies a clear breach of agreement.
Abdalla Ashir, Unit Committee Member in Nima told journalists on Thursday June 9 that “When Hajj was called in 2020, we were told that when it resumes, we would not pay any money apart from the 19,000 that we paid. But early this month, they brought their report that we are supposed to cough out another 7000 to add to what we paid in 2020. This is not good, that wasn’t the agreement.
“We all sat and agreed in 2020 that no addition, whether the prices had been increased or not, would be paid. The Hajj Board and agents, all of them agreed to that. We signed the agreement that we are not going to pay additional moneys but now there is a breach of contract now, it is too bad.”
Another aggrieved pilgrim, Issah Ali, a Social Worker is also reported to have said “We have a Muslim Vice President who I expected that as this thing came up he will at least come out and say something, because this is too bad.
“I think Hajj Board, they didn’t do well, there was a breach of contract because I paid in 2020 ¢19,500, equivalent to 3500 dollars, we signed that they were not going to refund the monies again due to Covid. They told us that even if the dollar rises, we were not going to pay anything again. We accepted it and gave money to them. When the time came for us to go to the Hajj this year, they just called us and told us to pay 7000 in addition to the already paid fees. This is not fair; we feel they lied to us.”
“I paid for my mother in 2020 but we were promised that we won’t pay anything this year should the Hajj resume. Now they are asking us to pay GH ¢7000. we can’t accept this. If they can’t send my mother to Mecca they should refund my money,” another aggrieved member of the group added.