The planning and management of this year’s hajj will be discussed when the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (Sahuc) hosts its annual roadshow in Cape Town. Sahuc’s roadshow will be directed toward creating awareness within communities about the various processes and structures of accreditation.
A public notice will be provided to the media when the information about the road-show is confirmed.
“The key factor is for the list of hajj operators to have their packages ready, so that the accredited pilgrim knows what he or she wants to buy and what they want to utilize in terms of services,” said Sahuc president Shaheen Essop.
Sahuc plans to separate pilgrims according to those that are first time pilgrims linked to repeat mahaarim. This list will be categorized according to date and time.
“This is basically a ‘soft’ approach to the accreditation process that essentially gives any one of the pilgrims, waiting in the queue, the opportunity to investigate the list.”
The only adjustments that will be made to the list, Essop affirms, will be as a result of anomalies found by the auditors.
Hujjaj that are not accredited may therefore investigate their position in the queue.
“The only time that you as a hajji or prospective hajji will go and do the necessary negotiations or contracting with an accredited hajj operator is only after you received the SMS indicating that you are accredited,” Essop concluded.
However, there remains uncertainty about which hajj and umrah travel operators to book with, due to a slew of complaints around bad service and other travelling hiccups over the umrah season.
“The track record of hajj operators can be enquired with the various officers, but that will have to be referred to the Hajj Operator Accreditation Committee,” Essop stated.
He further noted that the staff at Sahuc’s offices is not able to answer questions relating to the track-record of operators “off-hand”.
Instead, Essop explained, the National Hajj Accreditation Committee is certainly equipped to facilitate and to provide the necessary information.”
When requesting information about the track-record of operators, Essop urged that individuals specify what it is they are referring to.
“[Members of the public should explain] Are you talking about track record [of Hajj operators] in terms of the quality of hotels, their services, or where pricing is concerned?”
Sahuc is currently processing the accreditation of operators, which Essop said is expected to be completed in “not too long a time.”
In the past, hajj operators were granted accreditation that was valid for a three-year period. Due to the slow process of operators in bringing forward packages for the accreditation of hujjaaj, annual accreditation was implemented.
VOC (Thakira Desai)