A Hajj village has been set up at the Tamale Jubilee Park to accommodate this year’s Hajj Pilgrims who will be airlifted from the Tamale Airport beginning tomorrow to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage.
The Hajj village will not only provide the pilgrims with facilities to make their short stay comfortable but it is also equipped with facilities that could be found at the airport to facilitate the smooth evacuation of the pilgrims to the airport en-route to Saudi Arabia.
The Tamale Airport Manager, Mr Michael Omani-Mensah told the Daily Graphic on Wednesday that the pilgrims would begin arriving today and the first batch of 500 will depart tomorrow.
He explained that setting up of the village was also to reduce tension at the airport by enabling the pilgrims to go through all the necessary departure formalities at the village, after which they would be conveyed to the airport to board flights for the pilgrimage.
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A member of the planning committee of the Hajj, Alhaji Abu Fogor told the Daily Graphic that 1,500 pilgrims from the Savannah Ecological Zone, made up of the Northern, Upper East, Upper West Regional and parts of the Northern Volta and Brong Ahafo regions, would enplane from the Tamale Airport en-route to Saudi Arabia.
The Northern Regional Command of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) said the GIS had installed fraud detecting equipment at the Tamale Airport to test the authenticity of the passports and visas of the pilgrims.
This follows the upgrading of the Tamale Airport into an international one and the decision by the government to airlift Muslim pilgrims from the three northern regions to Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj.
The Northern Regional Commander of the GIS, Assistant Commissioner of Immigration (ACI), Mr Eric Afari, in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Tamale, explained that the measure was to curb the fraud associated with passports and visas of Hajj pilgrims.
Training of personnel
He said selected immigration personnel had been trained in the skill of processing travelling documents, together with paying attention to national security.
Mr Afari said the measures formed part of the regulations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and best practices in the aviation industry.
“The command is excited to be part of this historic event and has resolved to play its control and facilitative role as efficient as the standards require to accelerating the seamless transformation of the Tamale Airport”, Mr Afari added.
As part of efforts by the command to make this year’s Hajj a success, Mr Afari said the command had also organised some sensitisation training to the accredited Hajj agents in the three northern regions in view of their critical role in the Hajj.