• Promises to take action against erring providers
•Pilgrims praise Zikrullah-led Commission over flight, warm reception
The Madinah Coordinator of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Ibrahim Idris Mahmoud has called on pilgrims to report challenges encountered in feeding and accommodation during their stay in Madinah.
He assured that the Commission will investigate and proffer immediate solutions.
Speaking with the media team in Madinah, the City of the Prophet (SAW), Alhaji Ibrahim noted that NAHCON, a body responsible for the coordination of hajj operations in Nigeria, has engaged enough caterers to provide varieties of food for Nigerian pilgrims and would not tolerate reports of poor services.
Some pilgrims had earlier expressed dissatisfaction over the standard of accommodation housing them in Madinah as well as the quality and inadequate food served to them by caterers.
The pilgrims, especially from the southwest region, while speaking with Muslim News, said since they got to the city they have not been served local foods like amala, and semovita, among others.
While sharing her experience with Muslim News, Alhaja Islamiyyah, said, “We’ve been served tuwo shinkafa but we couldn’t eat it because it’s not our kind of food in the southwest. We expected NAHCON to serve us our local foods such as amala, semovita, etc.
“Besides, it is not timely and even the quantity is too small. Last night, we were walking through the nooks and crannies of Madinah to get rice, but we couldn’t get it. I am an ulcer patient and I don’t take bread. So I was moving from one street to the next to get rice to eat. That was around 9 o’clock. On getting to the hotel, they brought our meal past 10 o’clock. That’s not dinner. The food is not timely and even the quantity is too small.”
Speaking on accommodation, another pilgrim said, “The rooms allocated to us are substandard. I could remember when we first moved into the hotel, the room was stinking. I had to bring out air freshener from my luggage to freshen up the hotel. They should improve on the accommodation.”
Reacting, NAHCON’s Madinah Coordinator said, “We acknowledge their complaint on feeding. We have already taken action. We invited the caterers for a meeting. The chairman of the Commission (Barr. Zikrullah Hassan) joined us through Zoom.
“The way we do our things is that when a service provider provides food, the commission will sign, collect the food and give it to the state officials. We have three forms. The commission will sign, including the service provider and the state for reconciliation.”
“I want to assure our pilgrims that any erring provider would not be paid because that form is what we will use for reconciliation. We don’t want our people to be subjected to hunger. We will investigate all complaints and take drastic actions.”
The NAHCON chief also clarified a report about accommodation not properly tidy, noting the complaint had reached his office.
According to him, the situation was only faced by a set of Lagos pilgrims so far and it was due to a delay in discharging the previous occupants to Makkah.
“NAHCON rented the accommodation. It is only when there’s a delay in releasing the pilgrims who used the accommodation earlier that we witness stinking accommodations or accommodations not properly kept. And I think this happened to only Lagos pilgrims because we experienced delays in discharging pilgrims who used their hotel before their arrival. It is not something that happens often. It was due to the delay in discharging the pilgrims to go to Makkah.”
Alhaji Ibrahim also raised concerns over some pilgrims who unnecessarily complicate matters over accomodations by not securing theirs with NAHCON officials upon arriving Madinah.
He noted that accommodations have been allocated to the pilgrims even before their visa processing.
“So, each pilgrim has an accommodation. They might be talking about delays. Sometimes it comes from them. Immediately they arrive, they say the first port of call should be the masjid (prophet’s mosque). They won’t come for their accommodation. They will only come back after accommodations have been distributed and our officials have left the scene.
These officials have many things to do. Some pilgrims will even insist on staying with a particular person. The person may even be at the airport, not yet cleared to come into the town. All these contributed to the delay and challenges,” he added.
Kudos to NAHCON over flight, warm reception
The pilgrims meanwhile praised NAHCON over the smooth flight experience from Lagos to Madinah.
Muslim News learnt that they flew into the symbolic city with Flynas, the Kingdom’s airline.
One of the pilgrims said: “I give it to the pilot and the entire cabinet crew of the airline (flynas) that took us down here. We had a very smooth journey and a great landing. NAHCON did well on that. We enjoyed their feeding on board too. It was superb.”
She also noted the courteous reception offered by NAHCON officials on arrival at Madinah, noting, “We were warmly received and treated with courtesy till they led us to our hotel. Our luggage were cleared immediately and delivered to us. We appreciate them for that.”
Another pilgrim cited the closeness of their accommodation to the haram, describing it as plausible.
“We’ve been to some historic monuments: the first mosque built by the Prophet (SAW), the place he fought the battle of uhud, and some two other places. The ulamah from Lagos State conducted us around these sites.”
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