From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, Hajj Committee Explains Government’s Position
By Dauda Koroma
Sep 3, 2010, 17:08

The Chairman for the newly constituted government committee on Hajj affairs with office in the Vice President’s Office, Alhaji Salieu Mansaray has outlined reasons why government decided to take over the affairs of Hajj from the disbanded independent organizations that have been operating in that capacity for decades now.

Addressing the press on Thursday at the weekly government briefing at Youyi Building, the chairman informed that government has decided to centralize the process of Hajj business in the country in order to help intending pilgrims go and perform their religious obligation without let or hindrance as it used to be by certain unscrupulous individuals posing as hajj agents.  He said government’s intention is to completely eliminate foul play in travel and other processes relating to the Hajj. “This committee is being set by the President to ensure that government takes full control of the whole Hajj process in the name of transparency and fair play,” he noted. He said the decision came about after the discovery that the previous Hajj committees and agencies had so many problems in the implementation of the process which he said government no longer wants to occur again.

Alhaji Salieu Mansaray also disclosed that this year’s fee to perform Hajj is US$3,700 (Three Thousand Seven hundred dollar), less US$100 from what the former committees charged last year.  “Government wants every Muslim to perform the pilgrim so we make sure that the cost is reasonable to help the people,” he continued, while informing that unlike in the past, there will be no stop over in Guinea. “Government has negotiated and I want to inform all intending pilgrims that Sierra Leone now has two representatives from Mecca for the issuance of visas with direct flight to the Holy Land,” he said, adding that henceforth all private agencies have been banned by government.

He concluded by indicating that Hajj members will leave on October 2nd to return on the 31st November this year. He end up saying there is no corruption in the Hajj Committee that has been form by the government.

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