A bus conveying prospective pilgrims from Nasarawa State to Abuja, destined for Saudi Arabia for the 2023 Hajj, was involved in a road accident on Wednesday.
The incident, according to Daily Trust, happened near Kara in Keffi Local Government Area of the state.
Details surrounding the accident remain sketchy, however, it’s known that some passengers incurred injuries.
In a related development, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) addressed the rumors of an additional $100 fee for the 2023 Hajj pilgrimage, firmly stating that it would not partake in any action to financially burden the pilgrims.
To accommodate the added cost of alternate routes due to the closure of Sudan airspace, NAHCON revealed that the Basic Travelling Allowance (BTA) has been trimmed to $700 from the previous $800.
The Deputy Director of Information & Publications, Mousa Ubandawaki, clarified in a statement: “The Sudan crisis, resulting in the closure of its airspace for security reasons, necessitates our flights to operate via alternate routes through the airspace of Cameroun, Central African Republic (CAR), Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. This change brings additional costs of aviation fuel and overflight charges.”
Ubandawaki emphasized the thorough evaluation of all available options, including discussions with the Airlines, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and the State Pilgrims Welfare Boards, to find an expedient solution.
He said, “The Commission has asked the Federal Government to kindly consider waiving the remaining 35% of aviation charges, which equates to $55. This action will further lessen the additional airfare cost for Nigerian pilgrims.”
The remaining $195 of the extra $250 negotiated with the airlines will be distributed among the 75,000 pilgrims, approximating to an added $117 per pilgrim. To balance this without imposing extra financial strain on the pilgrims, NAHCON decided to reduce the BTA for 2023 Hajj pilgrims to $700.
As for the remaining $17, NAHCON asked air carriers to consider it as an additional discount to Nigerian Pilgrims affected by the closure of Sudan airspace. The Commission assured that if the Sudanese airspace is cleared for normal flights, appropriate refunds will be made to the pilgrims.
Ubandawaki concluded, “The Commission is committed to facilitating a smooth airlift for Nigerian pilgrims and providing them with the best of services in administering Hajj.”