The Pilgrims Affairs Office of Ghana (PAOG) says its Visa Registration Department at the Hajj Village has secured visas for some 1,500 would be Pilgrims flying directly from the three Northern Regions to Saudi Arabia.
The Chairman of PAOG, Alhaji Abdul Rauf Tanko, revealed this in Tamale Tuesday when he toured facilities for this year’s temporary Hajj Village at the Tamale Jubilee Park and the Tamale International Airport.
Three scheduled flights are expected to take off from the Tamale International Airport this year in the Hajj Committee’s bid to ensure a smooth journey for all pilgrims.
The Kotoka International Airport and the Hajj Village in Accra, especially have over the years witnessed a lot of chaos in terms of flight scheduling and living conditions of pilgrims.
In a bid to solve this problem, the Hajj Committee has started a pilot project to fly some pilgrims directly from Tamale, which has an upgraded airport to international status.
Deputy Communications Director of the Board, Mohammed Amin Lamptey told Joy News that, “Although there are more than 1,500 pilgrims from the three Northern Regions, we are taking the first 1,500 pilgrims who paid earlier.”
He said this is a pilot project adding the rest of the pilgrims from these Regions who are not part of the project as well as those from other Regions would have to travel Accra to begin their journey.
President John Dramani Mahama will be the special guest of honour on Friday August 19 at the opening of Hajj 2016 in Tamale before the first flight takes off with the first 500 would-be Pilgrims.
The Tamale International Airport is scheduled through FlyNas to fly 1,500 would-be Pilgrims from August 19-21 before moving camp to Accra for the remaining eight flights from August 23-30 respectively.
Mr Lamptey said the Board is happy everything has moved smoothly so far and they are looking forward to a smooth Hajj this year.
Ghana is expected to fly some 5424 pilgrims with 11 flights in total.