Hajj 2023: Shortage of tents, food mar first day of Hajj, NAHCON blames Saudi government

Posted by Timige, On 26 Jun, 2023 | Updated On 27 Jun, 2023 No Comments »


The first day of the ongoing hajj did not go smoothly for many Nigerian pilgrims who had to stand under the scorching sun due to the shortage of tents in Mina.

Over 95,000 Nigerian pilgrims were moved to the Mina Valley to officially commence the 2023 hajj on Monday.

However, thousands of the pilgrims could not get bed spaces in the camp due to the inability of the authorities to put the proper logistics in place.

Also, some of the pilgrims could not get spaces in the overcrowded tent, forcing them to stay under the sun, which peaked at 36 degree Celsius on Monday.

“The arrangement was somehow disappointing,” Opatola Abolade, a pilgrim from Oyo State, South-west Nigeria, lamented to PREMIUM TIMES.

Getting food was also a major issue on the first day of Hajj. In some cases, the bland food prepared by the kitchen was not available.

Picture of pilgrims inside tent
Picture of pilgrims inside tent

“When I came in 2012, we could go out and buy food. Then, no one was waiting for the officials to bring food. But these changes are causing hardship. Some of us have not eaten,” Habib Haliru, from Katsina State, said.

The stay in Mina is a mandatory part of the exercise. Pilgrims must spend the night in the camp before proceeding to Arafat on Tuesday and when they are done at Muzdelifah, they will return to the camp on Wednesday.

We’re disappointed — NAHCON

Speaking with journalists, the Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Zikrullah Hassan, said the Saudi government failed to deliver on its promise of handling the entire stay in Mina.

He stated that the commission had expressed reservations on the ability of the Saudi authorities to handle the logistics.

He said the authorities promised to deliver after forcing the commission to pay “non-negotiable” fees for the services.

READ ALSO: NAHCON attributes success of 2023 Hajj to Tinubu, Shettima’s support

“It is also clear that the food is not adequate and it has not been timely. The tent is the exclusive preserve of the government of Saudi Arabia. We have no way to expand or contract it. But we had an understanding that the tent was enough for us. I must say that we are very disappointed because quite a number of pilgrims were allowed to stay outside the tent.

“We made our reservations earlier enough. They believe they can exclusively handle the catering for the pilgrims. They insisted that they have a mega kitchen. Only two nights ago, I had a meeting with them till 2 a.m.,” he said.

Mr Hassan said the commission will be meeting with the Saudi authorities to find a way forward, adding that it will not rule out seeking for refunds.

This is the first full Hajj in the post-COVID-19 era.

About 900,000 participated in the 2022 Hajj but over two million pilgrims are participating in the ongoing exercise.

Source: State Cross River - Premium Time

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