The South African haj and Umrah Council (Sahuc) held extensive discussions with Haj authorities in Saudi Arabia where it has met with and signed the haj protocols for Hajj 1440/2019.
SAHUC president Maulana Muhammad Vaid said representatives from all Hajj affiliated sectors including the Umrah council and travel agencies met, with Saudi Authorities reportedly pleased with last year’s operations.
SAHUC met with the United Agents office to finalize Tanazzul costs which, according to Maulana Vaid, has experienced a 40% increase in comparison to last year. Vaid explained that this cost will be shared with head operators and is expected to be included in packaging prices.
Concerns have been raised however, over the proportionately higher number of people going on Umrah than on Hajj, highlighting the repeat Umrah fees of 2000 riyal. The council’s president noted that the Ministry indicated that this will be reviewed.
Payment for accreditation acceptance for Hajj 1440/2019 is R1 500. Only once this payment reflects on SAHUC’s system will the applicant be able to select an accredited Hajj operator.
Vaid explained that in the past few years the price for acceptance of registration was averaged out to the expenses of the mission and that while there is usually an increase of 10 % each year, the cost has been subsidized. He highlighted that over the past two years, a surplus was created but assured the monies are used appropriately.
“The monies that are used are in line with constitution for benefit of ummah. It is not for any personal gain of any individual; this is why our financials are audited. The money belongs to the Muslim community and it will be used for the furtherance of hajj and whatever is required in administration,” said Vaid.
This includes the expenses of delegates responsible for securing the process such as their transport, accommodation, sourcing of medication, advancing of clinics and disposing of medical waste etc. It is also to mitigate risk with regards to currency fluctuation.
Vaid further added that the Ministry urged operators who are responsible for accommodation to do so at approved hotels which have met certain requirements. The contracts that are signed between the operators and housing companies would be uploaded onto the Ministries system and will reflect against the contracts of specific hujaaj. Only once this process is completed will visas be issued.
SAHUC announced a deadline of March 5th 2019 to accept or defer the accreditation offer, as well as accepting operator of choice. Prospective hujaaj have been informed of the deadline via SMS.
Vaid also urged prospective Hujaaj to respond timeously, as this carries repercussions for operators, SAHUC and authorities in the Kingdom.
“We request the public to make a decision rather than later, whether they will accept the accreditation or defer the accreditation to a forth coming year so that it does not prejudice others in the queue that we need to fill the quota with.”
It was also noted that the number of deferrals is being monitored and a new list may need to be released, which may happen in the next few days or closer to date.
SAHUC will host the Western Cape roadshow on Saturday 23 Feb at Athlone Civic Centre at 10h30am. The roadshows will provide prospective hujjaaj with vital information on the hajj accreditation process and the process of contracting with an operator.
Prospective hujjaaj will also be afforded an opportunity to ask questions about uncertainties they may have about the process.
SAHUC noted that a second roadshow to be held in April, will focus on the logistics of hajj, the hajj mission, medical concerns and the rules and regulations of the process.