The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has announced an 18% hike in the 2012 Hajj fares over those of the 2011 Hajj, even as it has said that government's desire is to keep the cost of Hajj reasonable for intending pilgrims.
Briefing journalists in Abuja yesterday, the chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Muhammadu Bello, said the increase was necessitated by the corresponding rise in the cost of air ticket by $100; the rise in the cost of accommodation in Makkah which has increased by 500 Saudi Riyal and the cost of tent "C" and feeding in Mina and Arafat which has added SR600.
The chairman said a substantial portion of the Hajj expenditure was foreign exchange denominated, adding that there was no way the current cost could be avoided as foreign exchange used for transactions had direct bearing on the final cost package paid by pilgrims.
Summing the reasons for the fare increment, the chairman explained that the consensus arrived at with the state pilgrims' welfare boards and agencies on the need to upgrade the services provided to Nigerian pilgrims and make them at par with other countries was responsible for the increment too.
Announcing the 2012 hajj fare, NAHCON boss said intending pilgrims from the northern departure zones will pay a minimum fare of N613,645, against last year's N525,249.75, N649,895 for the medium seat and N727,770 for the maximum seat against N558,999 and N626,499 respectively . For the southern departures zone, intending pilgrims will pay N620, 968 for the minimum seat and N657, 218 and N735, 093 for medium and maximum seats respectively.
According to the Commission, the basic travel allowance (BTA) for the minimum seat is $750 (N108, 750.00); the medium seat attracts $1, 000 (N145, 000.00) and the maximum goes for $1, 500 (N222, 875.00).
While commending President Goodluck Jonathan, for listening to the plea of intending pilgrims, Bello explained that with the concessionary exchange rate of N145 to 1US$ granted by the president, each Nigerian pilgrim would enjoy a subsidy of N47,045.33.
Meanwhile, the commission has announced that the first Hajj flight conveying Nigerian pilgrims will depart the shores of Nigeria to the holy land of Saudi Arabia on September 18, 2012.