First batch of Ghanaian hajj pilgrims depart
The first batch of 253 Muslim Pilgrims left Accra at about 2130 hours on Monday, for Mecca, as part of the annual hajj pilgrimage.
The pilgrims, who left aboard an Egypt Air flight, are the first of nine batches of pilgrims to be flown to the Holy city in the course of the week.
Alhaji Gariba Ibrahim, Chief Executive Officer of Al-Balad Travel and Tours, facilitators of the departure of this first batch, told the Ghana News Agency that the travel procedures for the pilgrims went on smoothly without any problems.
Alhaji Gariba said he was thankful to Allah for a successful beginning, and that, he hopes and pray for the rest of the departures to be as smooth as this first one.
Immigration officials, who spoke to the Ghana News Agency, said, apart from a few hitches where some pilgrims could not fill their immigration forms without the assistance of immigration officials, they did not encounter any problems with their handling.
“It looks as if the arrangements at the Hajj village keep getting better and better with every new Hajj season,” noted an immigration official. “May be it is because we learnt from all the little mistakes of the previous ones,” he concluded.
A number of pilgrims expressed their appreciation to the government for ensuring their comfort and well being during their stay at the Hajj village, which has been set up at the El Wak stadium in Accra.
The village is provided with security, by both the military and the police, and has two big tents with modern amenities, such as television sets and air conditioners, among others, for the comfort of the pilgrims.
One tent houses males and the other, females, which is very important, so far as the teachings of Islam are concerned.
The village also has a health post to take care of pilgrims who might need medical attention.
In past years, the Hajj pilgrimage had been characterized by mishaps such as the inability of pilgrims to fly out as a result of poor arrangements, even when they had paid their flight fares.
Sleeping conditions for pilgrims were also bad and lacked very basic sanitation provisions.