Civil Society lauds smooth coordination of hajj airlifts, urges centralised information dissemination machinery
Posted by Garba Ahmed, Kaduna | 10 October 2016 | 2,710 times
Independent Hajj Reporters, a civil society organisation, has commended airliners, the National Hajj Commission and state pilgrims boards officials for a successful airlift of Nigerian pilgrims back home after the 2016 pilgrimage.
A total of 61,536, pilgrims were airlifted within a record-breaking 23 days on 139 flights operation from Saudi Arabia to Nigeria.
Independent Hajj Reporters hailed the achievement in a statement jointly signed by its national coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed, and publicity secretary Abubakar Mahmoud, and made available on Sunday night in Kaduna.
It said: “We commend the smooth coordination of this year’s pilgrim airlift, especially the record-breaking achievements of completing evacuation of pilgrims within 23 days and 5 days beyond earlier scheduled date.
“This has shown that Nigerians can achieve great feat provided that there is will and purposeful determination on the part of leadership of such institution.
“Analysis of the second leg of the operations shows that the return journey commenced on 17th of September 2016 with Flynas with flight number KNE7268 airlifting 465 Kogi State pilgrims to Nigeria. The last batch of 543Kano/Kebbi pilgrims airlifted by Max Air with flight number VM2116, departed Jeddah and on 9th of October 2016; thereby signaling the end of an exercise that began on 8th of August when Max Air airlifted 445 Zamfara State pilgrims from Sokoto Airport after the inaugural ceremony presided over by the President of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Highness Dr. Abubakar Sa’ad.”
The organisation noted other factors that contributed to the successes recorded during the 2016 hajj. These, it said, include the gradual remarkable reduction in time spent in screening Nigerian pilgrims at the King Abdulazeez International Airport in Jeddah, strict appliance of not allowing pilgrims whose flights are not on the ground at the airport, enforcement of ‘no show’ penalty, compelling of airliners to feed and provide accommodation for pilgrims in the event of any delay caused by the airliners by the Hajj commission , adherence with airlifts schedules by Carriers, allowing airliners to weigh pilgrims’ luggage in their accommodation in Makkah and the cooperation of Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).
The group however urged NAHCON, Hajj Air Carriers, and stakeholders to streamline the hajj airlifts information dissemination machinery into a centralised system in future exercises.
“We urge the Hajj Commission to factor a possibility of creating a single hajj airlifts information dissemination machinery where airliners, pilgrims, hajj administrators and stakeholders can access information during pilgrims airlifts. The command and control unit under aviation department has done a great job by providing up-to-date information on pilgrim’s airlifts and interfacing with airliners and state pilgrims boards’ officials. We suggest that such unit be further expanded to handle inquiries from pilgrims, pilgrims’ relatives in Nigeria, and general public on the movement of pilgrims at any particular point in time,” the statement added.
•Photo shows Nigerian pilgrims returning from the hajj.