The Vice President, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, has reiterated to pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia the need to adhere to regulations for the Hajj pilgrimage.
Dr Bawumia maintained that government will not condone any indiscipline on the part of 2017 pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.
He was speaking on the back of some pilgrims who were found with kola nut and some unauthorized goods during last year’s pilgrimage which were confiscated subsequently during the screening process.
“Hajj is a tenet of Islam and it insists on discipline so any pilgrim is expected to be disciplined and ensure we protect the name of Ghana.”
Dr Bawumia, who was part of last year’s pilgrimage, also charged the Hajj board to ensure the 30-day ritual is unprecedented, adding the successful takeoffs does not mean an end to their duties.
“The airlifting of pilgrims is not the end of your responsibilities,” he said. “Your duties are not over until the last pilgrim returns to Ghana without any challenge.”
He was speaking at a durbar organized to commemorate the day.
Chairman of the Hajj Board Sheikh I.C. Quaye, on his part, debunked reports that the board has withdrawn from an earlier statement that it would bus all pilgrims from their arrival in Madina through to their last ritual at Arafat, insisting government is resolved to making the 2017 Hajj the first of its kind.
A total of 506 pilgrims are scheduled to take off Thursday on Boeing 747-400 series at 2330GMT while a total of 3,036 pilgrims will take off from the Tamale Airport in the five flights scheduled for the Northern, Upper East, and Upper West regions.
Boeing 747-400 series from Saudi Arabia is expected to land at approximately 8:30GMT at the Tamale Airport.
Again, a total of 6,200 pilgrims will embark on the Hajj Pilgrimage.
Eight flights will take off from the Kotoka International Airport in Accra. This is contrary to the earlier announced six and seven flights scheduled and announced by the Hajj board.
According to a Deputy Communication Director of the board, Elliasu Haruna, the cancellation of the last flight from Tamale has become necessary given the number of pilgrims that will board the sixth flight.
To this end, the board has decided to add that number to pilgrims in Accra, increasing the flights from Kotoka International Airport to six.
Pilgrims had begun immigration process at the temporary Hajj Village at the Tamale Sports Stadium.
Accompanying the Vice President were the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Shaubutu, the Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery, Lands Minister John-Peter Amewu, Minister for Zongo and Inner City Development Alhaji Boniface Sadique, Deputy Aviation Otchere Darko, the Director for the Ghana Airport Authority, John Attafuah, and members from the Ghana Aviation Authority.
The Northern Region Minister, Saeed Salifu, in his address, appealed to pilgrims to pray for sustainable peace in Ghana and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
“Pray for peace in the entire country and for the president for God’s guidance as he strives to develop the country.”
By Zubaida Ismail|TV3|3news.com|Ghana