Monday, February 24, 2020 | ePaper

Don't put extra burden on Hajj pilgrims’ shoulder

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THE Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh and the Religious Affairs Ministry in a chorus criticised the Civil Aviation Ministry for taking proposal to increase airfare for each hajj pilgrim by Tk 12,000 from last year, terming it 'illogical" and "immoral". The HAAB leaders on Thursday at a press conference said the Saudi government did not increase or impose any new charge or tax this year for carrying hajj pilgrims. Similarly, the Bangladesh government did not impose any new charge or tax in this regard either and price of jet fuel also didn't increase as its price has come down to 51 cents per litre. So, it could be maximum Tk 88,000 to Tk 1,14,000. We know, normally the airfare on Dhaka-Saudi Arabia-Dhaka route is around Tk 44,000 to Tk 57,000. As the aircraft dedicated for carrying hajj pilgrims has to return empty from Saudi Arabia, so the airfare during hajj could be maximum Tk 88,000 to Tk 1,14,000. We must say it would negatively impact the entire hajj management, if airfare of hajj pilgrims is increased illogically.
There is a widespread allegation that the Civil Aviation Ministry reportedly has increased the airfare of hajj pilgrims this year to cover up Biman Bangladesh Airlines' losses that it suffered from other business sectors. Biman Bangladesh Airlines usually carries half of hajj pilgrims every year while the Saudi Arabian Airlines transports the rest. But what's true is that suffering of our pilgrims is nothing new. Every year over one lakh pilgrims, mostly elderly people, go to KSA for performing Hajj. And most of them have to face tremendous problem for different mismanagement - from renting house to getting medical service. Several thousand pilgrims also have to cancel their trip at the last moment for not getting plane tickets, though money was taken from all of them. Many have to loss their money being victims of unauthorized brokers.
It is hard to understand for us how the Civil Aviation Ministry could target the hajj pilgrims to cover up their loss! It is nothing but a glaring example of an incapable management under the present government.

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