Voice of the Cape

From the news desk

SATHOA urges accredited hujaaj to scrutinize contracts ASAP

As accredited South Africans prepare for Hajj 2019/1440, the South African Haj Travel Association (SATHOA) has advised hujaaj that there may be an increase in price compared to last year, but assures that everything is being done to minimise this cost.

SATHOA vice president Sedick Steenkamp explained some components of the hajj has experiences a substantial costs. The increase on the Tanazul costs (such as bus trips etc) will have an increase in package prices.

Accommodation prices in Mecca and Madina vary according to the season, which is something that South African Operators have been aware of to keep prices to a minimum. Steenkamp says he feels other countries have latched onto this idea.

“These include the bigger missions “such as Turkey, Indonesia, Malyasia”  buying up all the buildings in Madina, which is leaving us with all the expensive hotels because we cannot compete. Where we perhaps price 50-100 rooms, they buy all the buildings. So we’ve seen either the cheaper building are gone or the others have increased up to 50%,” explained Steenkamp.

He added that an increase in quota has also pushed up the price in Aziza up to 25 %. Negotiators that travel to Mecca to do contracting also cost more this year, with Airlines having pushed up price up to 15%.

Steenkamp said however that SATHOA has an agreement with SAHUC to try to keep the packages price as low as possible.

“We are acutely aware of the economic situation not only in  our country but also worldwide – including Mecca and Madina. We are trying to see where we can keep prices to a minimum so that our hujaaj can afford it,” Steenkamp reassures.

He noted that the organisation is aware that the Rand is volatile in terms of fluctuating exchange rates and added that there is a need for authorities to get payment in on time to avoid the cost of late payments.

Steenkamp clarified that SAHUC is in charge of negotiations with authorities in the kingdom but SATHOA balances other aspects.

He gave an overall estimated price increase of between 15-20% , noting that there are other components may alter prices.

The vice President further advised that hujaaj should not just compare prices of operators but scrutinize the contract to get maximum benefit.

Steenkamp urged hujaaj to make a decision and pay operators as soon as possible.  He added that hujaaj should ensure that the contract has a clause which states no increases can apply.

“Make sure there is a clause that says no increase because you have paid up, so there are no discussions of increases afterward. If you’ve paid the operator, the operator must pay the authorities and that is it. Also check if everything for the Hajj is included (in the package).”

He also advised that first timers go accompanied by someone that has been through the process before and will ask the operators the right questions.

“Do not sign any blank contractors. If there are any disputes, you can’t just claim you’ve signed the thing. You’ve got to make sure what you sign for and talk to your operator.”

Steenkamp lastly reassured Hujaaj that SATHOA works to ensure the trip is one that is worthwhile.

“We are honoured to serve the guest of Allah and In shaa Allah we are going to ensure that we give you a journey as smooth and trouble free as possible.”

VOC

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