Why we have different hajj fares for states
Following the announcement of the final hajj fare for Nigerian pilgrims by the Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria(NAHCON), Alh. Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, some people have raised questions about why pilgrims from different states of the federation have to pay different fares. The commission had been working for over two months to ensure that the fare did not become too expensive for average Nigerian Muslims, especially in light of the global economic crisis, inflation, and the depreciation of the naira against the dollar in the forex market. Fortunately, the commission was able to keep the price below 3 Million Naira despite these challenges.
The price of air travel, including the charter flight that Hajj carriers charge, is influenced by the nautical mile the aircraft covers. This is why the air ticket for Maiduguri and Yola departure is much lower than all the other Northern states as well as Southern Nigeria due to their proximity to Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims from these two airports spend less than four hours to Saudi Arabia, while those from other regions of the North and Southern states spend 5 or more hours to the same destination.
The price and location of accommodation in Makkah is also a factor. States Pilgrims Welfare Boards with large contingents needed more expansive accommodation, while others may not require as much. Each state sources accommodation that suits its needs and capacity. NAHCON ensures that the states comply with the benchmark and that the standard of accommodation is commensurate with the fare charged.
The ongoing urban redevelopment in Makkah has seen many buildings giving way to urban renewal, leading to a Sellers’ market where demand is higher than supply. Additionally, the lifting of the cap on allocation to all countries has expanded the attendance from less than one million last year to three million this year, putting more pressure on the existing accommodation market.
The local charges by the different state pilgrims, such as administrative charges, uniforms, registration fees, and transportation shuttles, also vary from state to state. NAHCON’s role is limited to fixing a cap on the amount that could be charged by states. Some states charge as little as N10,000, while others charge as much as N20,000, depending on the specific charges.
Despite these challenges, NAHCON promises to ensure that intending pilgrims get value for money by upgrading the quality of services rendered to them. The commission will continue to work towards realizing and achieving Hajj Mabrur, acknowledging the sacrifice made by intending pilgrims to fulfill this religious obligation.