File photo: Hajj pilgrims boarding a plane

Efforts of the Hajj stakeholders that culminated in reduction of the 2019 Hajj fare by over N50,000 across states have been commended by the Independent Hajj Reporters, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) that monitors and reports Hajj and Umrah activities in the country.

The body made the commendation in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed and Publicity Secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud in Abuja.

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), on Saturday in a statement by its Head of Public Affairs Division, Mrs Fatima Usara, announced a reduction of 620 Saudi Riyals, equivalent to N51, 170.45 on this year’s fare.

The commission said the reduction was as a result of the reclassification of land transportation routes to be used by Nigerian pilgrims during Hajj.

NAHCON also directed all states, FCT and the Armed Forces to immediately refund the amount to all intending pilgrims who made full payment.

Commenting on the development, the CSO said with the reduction of the fare, Nigerian pilgrims were actually paying N1.2million for services they would enjoy throughout the 30 to 35 days hajj period.

“Analysis of the 2019 hajj fare shows that each pilgrim will receive the sum of $800 (an equivalent of N244,000) as Basic Travelling Allowance (BTA), the initial N1.5million paid in some states.

“This is coming at a time other countries are crying over increase in their fares, citing a rise in transportation cost.

“We commend the foresight of the leadership of NAHCON and State pilgrims’ boards for coming with this financial relief for intending pilgrims.

“While we commend NAHCON for this feat, a committee should be set to monitor the refund of the N51, 170.45 to pilgrims that had earlier paid their full hajj fare to their states pilgrims’ boards.”