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17th-Aug-2018

No improvement in Hajj management

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A TOTAL of 606 people could not fly to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj this year for various reasons, including negligence of hajj agencies, said Religious Affairs Minister on Wednesday. He said a number of complaints have been received against some agencies and action will be taken against them after the Hajj.
 The last flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines will leave for Saudi Arabia on Thursday, while that of the Saudia Airlines will leave on August 17. A total of 1,26,798 pilgrims from Bangladesh will perform hajj this year. Of them, 6,798 are traveling under government management and the rest are under private management. Apart from the government, 528 private hajj agencies have been allowed to send pilgrims to perform hajj this year. The return hajj flights are scheduled to begin on August 27.
This negligence occurs every year. As many as 16 hajj agencies did not send a single pilgrim to Saudi Arabia despite getting visas of aspirant hajis due to their negligence last year. Also in 2017 15,000 intended hajis also did not get visas so far due to the irresponsibility of a section of hajj agencies. In 2017, some 367 pilgrims failed to go to Saudi Arabia due to visa and ticket problems. The hajj pilgrims who missed last year's hajj filed complaints against 18 hajj agencies for their misconduct.  
Transparency International Bangladesh reported that the pilgrims suffered for the failure of the agencies to get them to airport in time and get them proper accommodation and food. It was also alleged that agents and brokers often exploited pilgrims, especially those come from rural areas. It is, therefore, evident that irregularities are systemic. In the last few days, the authorities cancelled several designated Hajj flights of Biman for not getting enough passengers.
We must say, instead of privatising Hajj services, the Religious Affair Ministry should take the primary responsibility of sending Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. Private agencies are only interested in amassing huge profits. The errant agencies must be blacklisted and brokers should be eliminated from the process.