Hajj of 18,000 Bangladeshis: Uncertainty ends at Makkah meet
The uncertainty over 18,000 pilgrims being able to perform hajj this year has ended following a meeting between officials of Bangladesh embassy in Saudi Arabia, Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh, and the Saudi government.
The crisis was over within 24 hours after the tripartite meeting held in the kingdom resolved the issue of additional moallem fees at Makkah late Friday night.
It fixed the fees at 1,500 Saudi Riyals, Golam Moshi, Bangladesh Ambassador to Saudi Arabia told The Daily Star over phone yesterday.
The fee was 520 Saudi Riyals but the Saudi authorities increased the amount and split fees into four grades. The fee for an A grade moallem, who guides the pilgrims, was fixed at 3,950 Saudi Riyals, a B grade one at 1,900, C grade 1,500 and D grade 720 Saudi Riyals.
Opposing the move, hajj agency owners had said that they as per the previous rate had already collected 520 Saudi Riyals from each of the pilgrims.
On Thursday, owners and representatives of 91 hajj agencies at a press conference at the Bangladesh Hajj Mission in Makkah said it was impossible for them to run hajj tours following the fee hike.
They said the Saudi government had increased the moallem fees two months ago but the Bangladesh Hajj Mission and Hajj Council Office in Saudi Arabia did not inform them of the matter in time.
“And it is impossible for them to ask the pilgrims to pay more,” said Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh acting president Eyaqub Sharafati, adding, “Hajj agencies will not be able to deliver services to the pilgrims if they need to pay high moallem fees.”
Sources said hajj agencies usually pay D-grade moallem fees to keep price of hajj packages low.
The tripartite meeting decided to fix the rate at 1500 Saudi Riyals for all hajj agencies of Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, the 105 pilgrims who missed their Friday night flight to Saudi Arabia, due to mismanagement by hajj agencies, left for Jeddah on a Saudia flight last night.
Director of Ashkona Hajj Camp Hafiz Uddin yesterday told The Daily Star that they have warned all hajj agencies about harassing pilgrims.