By Ado Hassan, Sokoto
THE Director General of the Sokoto Pilgrims Welfare Agency( PWA), Alhaji Muhammad Shehu Dange has said that the suspension of airlift operations of the state intending pilgrims by NAHCON for Sunday 28 July, 2019 was sequel to clash in flight schedule with Zamfara state.
The state had in two trips, airlifted no fewer than 857 intending pilgrims to the holy land via Air Planners, its official carrier.
Commenting on the development Wednesday in Sokoto, Shehu Dange explained that the action was due to a slight delay in Lagos which affected the state’s flight schedule.
” This unforeseen development caused a shift in date of airlifting our pilgrims.”
He denied the agency having financial issues with NAHCON over remittances and Visas hence the suspension.
” We have concluded plans with our official carriers and our Visas are intact including all necessary payments. The entire process is on ‘ PAYGO’ and there is no way we would have commenced airlift without furnishing the requirements as demanded”, he said.
According to him, the state intending pilgrims were on top of every requirement expected to be fulfilled for the pilgrimage, ” our pilgrims are obedient and respectful. They respect time schedule”, he added.
However, an Official of the carriers, Air Planners, Ahmed Suleiman Ruma while shedding more light on its flight operations said it services were engaged by 16 counties across the world for the current hajj airlift exercise.
” We have enough flights and have planned our operations schedule according to states with caution against mix ups and clash in operation”, he explained.
Ruma further reminded states pilgrims agencies with contractual engagement with Air Planners as their official carriers to also encourage intending pilgrims to respect flight schedule by keeping to time for a smooth and successful airlift exercise to and from the holy land.