Aug 27, 2009, 7:06 AM
The Gambia International Airlines, GIA, on Monday held a stakeholders meeting on Hajj preparations at its office in Yundum.
The meeting, which brought together GIA officials, National Hajj Commission, Gambia Civil Aviation Authority, Ministry of Health and others, was meant to review 2012 Hajj and begin ground works for this year’s Hajj.
In their interventions at the meeting, Matty Boye, PS, at the Ministry of Health and Adama Demba, director of Health Services, said health is a key element for the performance of Hajj, adding that it is also their responsibility to assess the level of preparedness, including medications and vaccinations.
According to them, the Ministry of Health will look at the level of preparedness, starting with laboratory, vaccination and medications.
They promised that the health ministry will work to make ensure that proper packaging on medicines has been done at the right time.
On the issue of issuing medical certificates to pilgrims, who may be sick, old or too weak to perform the holy journey, the Ministry of Health will select people who will then issue medical certificates.
For the Hajj Commission, Imam Abdoulie Fatty, said every woman who is under the age of 40 must be accompanied by a male partner.
For the GIA officials, they are now doing preparation for the aircrafts and will start going to Saudi to conclude the accommodation arrangements.
In an interview with Lamin Cham, Commercial Director, GIA, he said, this year they are working with Eco Bank, where pilgrims will now go and make the Hajj payments.
He said intending pilgrims can now make Hajj deposits with Eco Bank, where they will be given a receipt.
He said the deposit that they would collect is D80, 000, but he noted that pilgrims are encouraged to pay something like 100,000 or 140,000 since packaging is not yet known. He then disclosed that sometime in June or July the package would be confirmed.
He said normally they make the deadline two weeks before the departure, but they are still planning and hopefully this year the pilgrims may leave during the last week of September. This, he added, is still not yet confirm.
He called on the pilgrims to come and make early payments, because by doing so it will secure them a seat.
He said Hajj is a national issue and is not GIA alone that can do it, that is why they have stakeholders like government which is the number one Hajj stakeholder, Gambia Immigration Departments since one cannot travel without a passport and the Ministry of Health for health of pilgrims.