IN continuation of the preparations for, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has concluded the shortlists of accommodation and catering service providers in Saudi Arabia.
A team comprising of Board Members and Staff of NAHCON and representatives of State Pilgrims’ Welfare Bodies were in Saudi Arabia between January 23 and 30, 2016 to inspect and verify the existence and capacity of companies that intend to provide accommodation and catering services to Nigerian pilgrims this year.
A statement signed by the Commissioner in charge of Planning, Research, Statistics, Information and Library Services, Dr. Saleh Okenwa revealed that a total of 44 companies applied to provide pilgrims accommodation in Makkah out of which 27 qualified and were approved.
Similarly, a total of 54 companies applied to provide catering services in Makkah, Muna and Arafat out of which 32 were successful. The lists of approved companies have been communicated to State Pilgrims Welfare Bodies who are expected to select providers of their choice and communicate to the Commission by February 19, 2016 (today). The Commission has also finalized selection of four accommodation and five catering service providers in Madina for the Hajj 2016.
The arrangements, according to Okenwa, are made so as to meet the deadlines set by the Saudi Arabian authorities.
Meanwhile, the Hajj Commission has also reached an agreement with the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in order to ensure better efficiency in Hajj operations.
The agreement was reached when the Chairman/CEO of NAHCON Barr. Abdullahi Muktar Mohammed led a delegation of the Commission to the Aviation House, Lagos on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 on a courtesy visit to the Director General of the NCAA, Captain Muhtar Usman.
The Chairman called for the DG’s assistance in ensuring that carriers provide world-class services for the pilgrims and observed that some Nigerian airports used for pilgrims’ airlift operations lacked some basic facilities that adversely affect the rotation circle of pilgrims airlift and increase delay in the operation such as Night Landing Support; adequate fuel storage facilities and sufficient ground handling facilities.
In response, the Usman thanked the NAHCON team for the visit. He reassured them of the harmonious partnership and cooperation of the Authority. He added that the provision of world-class services like airport capacity in terms of ground handling, fuelling, airlines prequalification, in-flight services, passengers’ comfort and so on, remain the priority of the Authority. He promised to assist in ensuring that the condition of designated Hajj airports meet international requirements of having standardised fire service facilities, ground handling, and navigational equipment.
He therefore called for more cooperation from NAHCON regarding timely selection of carriers so that they can be properly assessed, insisting, “timely inspection and surveillance will make next hajj operations more successful.” He sought the support of the Commission to ensure that full remittance of five per cent Ticket Sales Charge (TSC) devoid of any forms of waiver to the Authority is done as it will help in the effective discharge of NCAA’s oversight duties. He advised that regular periodic joint statements by the Commission and NCAA be arranged in subsequent operations to address the information challenge earlier raised by the chairman.