In a rare gesture of goodwill to the Hajj pilgrims, the government reduced the fare of Hajj flights of Biman Bangladesh Airlines by more than ten thousand. People willing to go to Makkah will have to pay Tk 128,000. This is a welcome decision because it will not only make the Hajj pilgrimage more affordable, but will also help Biman Bangladesh attract more passengers. Last year, the national flag carrier carried half of the pilgrims from Bangladesh to Saudi Arabia. But apart from reducing air fare, the quality of service of Biman Bangladesh should also be improved to make it more comfortable for the pilgrims as well as other passengers.
The hajj pilgrimage to Makkah is one of the five pillars of Islam and the Hajj is the largest gathering of Muslims in the world. Every year over one lakh people from Bangladesh perform Hajj. However, it is a pity that for Bangladeshis embarking on this sacred religious pilgrim is still far from hassle-free as conmen resort to a wide range of deceitful tactics to line their pockets in every step of the process.Nearly 400 Hajj Agencies send pilgrims from Bangladesh. If past experience is anything to go by, most of the agencies don’t comply with the government fixed rate of costs. Earlier we reported that many pilgrims couldn’t go to perform Hajj even after giving Tk. 3 to 5 lakhs because after paying the amount they found no trace of their hajj agents. Thus some dodgy hajj agencies are dealing a double blow. In one hand they left pilgrims in limbo and on the other hand, Biman incur huge amount of losses due to missed flights.
So, we think the government would do well in dealing with these tricky issues well ahead of Hajj season begins. Pilgrims, mostly senior citizens, have to face a lot of trouble because of the profit-mongering hajj agents and agencies. The government should bring all hajj agencies under strict surveillance and streamline the process of sending pilgrims.