#Article (Archive)

2008 Hajj Operations Set to be Liberalised

Jul 14, 2008, 6:47 AM

As this year's Hajj operations draws near, the government of The Gambia is reported to be currently working on processes to liberalise the Hajj operations in the country. A dispatch from the Department of State for Local Government, Lands and Religious Affairs has stated that all interested travel agencies wishing to take part in the 2008 Hajj (Sales and Transportation) are invited to apply through the National Hajj Commission not later than next week Thursday.

According to the release, the anticipated number of pilgrims for this year is 1350. "Interested Travel Agencies should be IATA registered and licensed by the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority," the release noted.

To qualify, the release went on, the agencies would need to satisfy the following conditions by sending written applications indicating the intention to operate for Hajj 2008 to the National Hajj Commission Department of State for Local Government, Lands and Religious Affairs.

Agencies are also expected to indicate that they have the capability to generate minimum sales of 100 pilgrims, submission of a three months Bank Guaranty (starting 30thJuly 2008) for the pre-financing of all Hajj costs relating to flight, accommodation and incidental expenses which will commensurate with their approved quota allocation by the Hajj Commission.

"Agencies are also expected to provide an undertaking to Government accepting joint responsibilities and share expenses with other participating Travel Agencies for the transportation and accommodation of Gambian pilgrims according to their quota allocation.

"Provide an undertaking to Government for reimbursement of costs and compensation to aggrieved pilgrim(s) in the event of any hardship experienced by prospective pilgrims, due to the failure of an operator in meeting its financial commitments," the release added.

The release went further to explain that acceptance of these conditions had to be in writing and had to state the proprietors' as liable in addition to collaterals to be attached as guarantee for any breach of the above-mentioned undertakings.

All applications, the release added, must reach the office of the Secretary, National Hajj Commission, Department of State for Local Government, Lands and Religious Affairs on or before 16thJuly, 2008.

It would be recalled that the same policy of liberalisation was pursued last year for the Hajj Operations. Three companies, namely GIA, Banjul Travel Agency and Continental Travels, participated in the operations last year.