The first batch of prospective pilgrims is scheduled to leave Ghana on August 10, 2017, for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj.
The Chairman of the Ghana Hajj Board, Sheikh I.C. Quaye, said the pilgrims would depart from Tamale to Madina, the burial place of Prophet Muhammed, where they would stay for three days before continuing to Mecca to await the commencement of the Hajj rites.
He said the Tamale flights would run till August 15, 2017, and indicated that the airlifting of would-be pilgrims from Accra would start on August 16, 2017.
Sheikh Quaye made this known at an orientation workshop orgainsed by Al-Balad Travel and Tours Limited for prospective pilgrims at the Hajj Village in Accra.
Islamic scholars used the occasion to advise prospective pilgrims on what they were required to do to perfect their Hajj and the prohibitions of the pilgrimage.
Medical screening was also conducted to ascertain the health status of the would-be pilgrims to guide the medical team on the combination of drugs needed for the pilgrimage.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and it is obligatory for every Muslim who has the financial means and good health to perform it at least once.
Transportation and other services
Sheikh Quaye said arrangements had been made for the pilgrims to be served two meals daily for the three days that they would stay in Madina.
He said a standard hotel had been secured for the pilgrims in Mecca, and indicated that at most four persons would be in a room.
The Chief Executive Officer of Al-Balad Travel and Tours Limited, Alhaji Gariba Ibrahim, said many prospective pilgrims lacked knowledge of the obligations and prohibitions in the performance of the Hajj.
He said the workshop was, therefore, to create a forum for Islamic scholars to educate the pilgrims on Hajj rites.
In Tamale, a pre-Hajj orientation workshop has also been organised for some selected personnel of the Northern Command of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS).
It was aimed at preparing the personnel to effectively discharge their duties to ensure an incident free 2017 Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
The workshop was also designed to refresh the officers on some critical subjects with particular reference to embarkation and disembarkation processes and procedures, as well as immigration laws and standards.
Addressing the participants, the Northern Regional Commander of the GIS, Chief Superintendent Mr Noah Kwame Ahomka Yeboah, said 3,500 pilgrims were expected to be flown directly from the Tamale Airport to Jedda, Saudi Arabia.
Last year, a total of 1,500 pilgrims were airlifted from the Tamale Airport to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj, which coincided with the inauguration of the first phase of the Tamale Airport re-development project.
Mr Yeboah announced that the Hajj Village had been moved from the Jubilee Park to the Tamale Sports Stadium for security reasons because of the increase in the number of pilgrims and also to ensure a comfortable shelter for the pilgrims.
He said six flights had been scheduled to depart from the Tamale Airport to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Mr Yeboah said Hajj agents would also be sensitised to their role in the process to avoid denying anyone the chance of performing the rituals.