This year’s Hajj is likely to be costlier after the Government of The Gambia ended a decade-old policy of giving subsidy to Muslims heading to Mecca to perform the fifth and final pillar of Islam.
According to an insider at the Gambia International Airlines (GIA), the package that was available for D210,000 last year cost D300,000 now.
“The market for Hajj services is now liberalised and that is why the government decided to end the subsidy that was given to pilgrims through the GIA,” said our source.
A member of the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council, who did not want to be named, revealed to What’s On-Gambia that they will be meeting the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service this week to appeal for the reinstatement of the Hajj subsidy.
“The Hajj, which is a mandatory pilgrimage that must be done by Muslims once in their lifetime, should be affordable for ordinary Gambians. We don’t want it to become a ritual for the rich."
However, the GIA, which is the national carrier of The Gambia, has already started advertising their hajj package for 2018.
An Austria-based Gambian, Soriba Ceesay disclosed: “I called GIA a few days ago and they confirmed that this year they are taking D300,000 per person. I can’t still understand why it's so expensive.”
More than 3000 Gambians are expected to perform the Hajj this year.