Hajj pilgrims continue to face hiccups

Dhaka,  Tue,  26 September 2017
Published : 15 Aug 2017, 00:21:19

Hajj pilgrims continue to face hiccups

Mohiuddin Babar

Thousands of Hajj pilgrims from the country are decked in a spate of hopelessness and helplessness. Never before, such a situation happened in transiting the Hajj pilgrims, for many of them it's a life-time aspiration to fulfill the religious tenet. While the Holy Hajj is approaching fast, tens of thousands of intending pilgrims are simply locked in increasing worries.

According to reports, more than half of the intending pilgrims are yet to be facilitated with all travel requisites to fly into Saudi Arabia. A total of about 130,000 people from the country intended to perform the Holy Hajj this year.

The critical issue has been the visas coupled with the sudden imposition of additional fees for those who had performed the annual ritual earlier. Meanwhile, blame-game continues between the concerned ministry and the Hajj or travel agents.

The national carrier, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, had to cancel two dozen of its scheduled flights to carry the pilgrims. Saudi Airlines has reportedly cancelled some flights too due to the lack of passengers.

The situation became so bad and alarming that the High Court had to direct the foreign ministry to help resolve the crisis by communicating with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with regard to the visa complications. The court also directed the concerned authorities to seek explanation from those responsible for the mess.

Truly, this is most unfortunate. Thousands of people plan for years to perform the important rite. Many of them are poor and have made enormous sacrifices throughout their lives to arrange for completing this rite. What answer do they have now at their failure to accomplish their dream?

It is not the first time that such a situation has befallen in smooth transit of the pilgrims. There have been a plethora of reports concerning mismanagement by the agents in Bangladeshi Haji camps in Saudi Arabia. Every time any such happens, there are only assurances of probe and better services next time. Unfortunately the next time never arrives and the woes continue to mount.

Every year, about two hundred thousand people from Indonesia proceed to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. It is reported that each and every Indonesian pilgrim enjoys a smooth journey. The authorities in Indonesia are learnt to have a developed comprehensive Hajj management profile that ensures flawless pilgrimage. Over three thousand people from different ministries are trained and deployed in the Hajj management axis to assist the pilgrims.    

It all seems that there is no end of the vicious cycle of creating obstacles for the intending pilgrims during the Hajj. It is not known when discipline will be in effect to ensure hassle-free journeys for the pilgrims.

As the intending Hajj pilgrims continue to count the beads in desperation to materialise their cherished goal of accomplishing the life-time ritual, it is truly an unfortunate and unacceptable failure in enabling them with a comfortable transit. Those responsible remain irresponsible and scot-free while the aspirant pilgrims continue to face the hiccups.

[The writer is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) consultant and national TV/Radio broadcaster. mohicsr@gmail.com]
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