Ringing the bell of 2024 Hajj

“A good plan, violently executed now is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”
Anonymous

Recently, Independent Hajj Reporters released a statement urging NAHCON and state Muslim pilgrims boards to immediately activate the process of registering intending pilgrims for the 2024 Hajj. The statement hinged its calls on the early release of the 2024 Hajj calendar by the Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah – detailing the allotted date for each major event preceding the 2024 Hajj.

In reaction, some critical hajj stakeholders commended IHR for the timely reminder of the ‘potentially difficult’ situation NAHCON and states Muslim pilgrims boards may find themselves in i2024 if they fail to immediately begin the preparations for the 2024 hajj.

Pakistan, Kuwait, and Indonesia swung into 2024 hajj preparations citing the early release of the hajj calendar. Nigeria’s case is more dangerous because of the ‘cash and go’ yearly policy we operate. It is only in Nigeria intending pilgrims will pay for Hajj registrations after the commencement of the Hajj airlift. We should note that the 2024 hajj is going to be extremely challenging especially if Nigeria maintained its 95,000-hajj quota.

The political/administrative structure in Nigeria inhibits the easy flow of implementation of hajj plans – coupled with incompetent and mostly politically convenient ‘trial-by-error’ hajj administrators. The call for early preparations becomes more expedient to avoid multiple service failures in the 2024 hajj. Timely actions minimise errors and give room for proper review.

For example, If NAHCON directs states to commence registration of pilgrims today, it will take a minimum of 30 days to comply as they will have to request approval from their governors before they can start the registration. Remove 30 days from the Saudi Ministry of Hajj 2024 calendar of events and see the challenge of time.

Interestingly, Saudi Arabia has since begun to ‘work the plan’, with the committee in charge of pilgrims’ accommodation in Medina commencing registration for permits for houses to accommodate pilgrims in 2024.

The minister of Hajj has made it clear that the country that concludes early contracts will be given priority in taking the appropriate places at the holy places.

There is an urgent need to appraise the Saudi Ministry of Hajj calendar of events, match it with the reality of times and come up with a blueprint. Success depends on previous preparation without which there will be failure of service delivery next year

The ‘poor services’ experienced by virtually all hajj participating countries in this year’s hajj was primarily a result of the challenge in ‘planning and execution of hajj policies that come with little or no time to ‘test run’ operational manuals before airlift began.

The dates that matter:

September 16 (approximately in 60 days)

The preparatory meeting with hajj participating countries for 2024 hajj is expected to be held on September 16, 2023, and the electronic track would open for data entry, and the list of licensed companies that will serve pilgrims would be published.

The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) will activate the financial portfolio of the electronic track for airlines.

NAHCON has less than 60 days to prepare for this all-important meeting. Can NAHCON end the airlift in 15 days, return home and summon post stakeholders meeting to prepare for this important meeting?

Can NAHCON seal a pre-hajj airlift contractual agreement with a potential 2024 Hajj carrier in 60 days? Can the local airlines meet up with the new times table? The race is on.

November 4 (in 4 months)

“On this date, the preparatory meetings will be completed and service packages will be made available on Rabi Al-Thani 20, 1445AH, corresponding to November 4, 2023. Thereafter, the Hajj and Umrah service will be launched.

February 25, 2024 (in 7 months)

The minister said that the allotment process of pilgrims’ accommodation in Makkah and Madinah and the Holy Sites would be finalized by Shaban 15, 1445AH, corresponding to February 25, 2024. In 8 months from now, NAHCON and states boards must finalise all accommodation contracts for the 2024 hajj exercise. A tall order.

March 1 to April 29, 2024 (in 8 months)

The announcements that the processing of visas will begin on March 1 and close on April 29, 2024, should ordinarily create operational panic in NAHCON. Timely processing of visas has been a major challenge leading to some pilgrims missing out during the 2022 hajj. NAHCON has less than 8 months to collate all funds from 2024 registered pilgrims, remit same to Saudi Arabia and begin the issuance of visa.

The first batch of 2024 hajj pilgrims will arrive in Saudi on May 9 corresponding to Dhul Qada 1, 1445AH.

Are the Nigerian Hajj stakeholders ready for the fast pace Hajj operating system?

Time is a factor.

Muhammed is the National Coordinator,
Independent Hajj Reporters
Misfala, Makkah Saudi Arabia
+966547818968

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