Nigerian pilgrims’ agencies maintain low hajj fare despite global increase

By Sageer Kabeer  

Nigerian public pilgrims’ authorities are charging low hajj fare for 2019 pilgrimage despite a worldwide hike in fares for the fifth pillar of the Islamic faith, a civil society organisation, Independent Hajj Reporters, has said.

The civil society commends “States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards for their efforts in keeping the cost of hajj within N1.5 million despite the increase in some hajj services in Saudi Arabia.”

A breakdown of the 2019 hajj fare shows that each pilgrim that paid N1.5 million will collect $800 (N288, 400) basic travel allowance, two pairs of suitcases that cost N16, 000, and a set of uniform that cost N4, 000.

Every pilgrim will be fed twice for 35 days at about N85, 000, while 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 Saudi authorities, as well as hajj services in Muna, Arafat and Muzdalifa.

This explanation was made by the civil society’s national coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed, and publicity secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud, in a statement on Tuesday.

It said the return air ticket that used to cost $1,750 has now been bargained downward to $1,550, while the pilgrims’ accommodation in Madina has also been brought down by $50, courtesy efforts by Nigeria’s apex hajj regulator, NAHCON.

“The breakdown shows that there is no increase in any hajj service component that falls within the scope of states pilgrims’ agencies or the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria,” the civil society said.

It said, “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”.

This year, Saudi Arabia has increased the cost of transportation by 70%, while the 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%, Independent Hajj Reporters said.

“Pakistan increased 2019 hajj fare by Rs 1,56,975. In 2018, Pakistani pilgrims paid Rs2,70,000, but they will pay Rs4,26,000 this year,” the statement said.

“While reacting to a protest by Pakistanis over the increase, the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said that 70 percent of the newly-revised price of hajj covers expenses in Saudi Arabia and is beyond the government’s control.”

“It was on the basis of the above that IHR commends Nigerian hajj stakeholders for maintaining the 2018 hajj cost template, despite the obvious increase in some vital hajj components from Saudi Arabia,” the civil society said.