By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH
Information has reached Foroyaa during the weekend that five intending pilgrims to Mecca have been dropped after having already paid the full hajj package amounting to D211,204 (Two hundred and eleven thousand two hundred and four dalasis) each to the Banjul Travel Agency.
The families are complaining that they have already paid for the full hajj package as well as spent money to satisfy all the other requirements only to be told that there is no place for their intending pilgrims in the hajj flights.
Speaking to Foroyaa, one Fatoumatta Coulibally, an intending pilgrim from Bayo Kunda, who came with her family to Serrekunda to confirm and prepare for her departure date during weekend, she said she was called and told that she cannot be part of those who will be going because the flight has already been fully booked.
The 61 year old Mrs. Coulibally expressed disappointment to this latest development after she had been coming and going and to complete all the medical tests and other requirements. What is more disturbing, she said, is that she had already informed relatives and well wishers that a place had been booked for her.
“My son who is in Spain bought the ticket for me and now I’m being told that I have no place in the flight to take me to perform the pilgrimage,” she lamented.
This was confirmed by Muhammed Bayo, one of Fatoumata’s sons, who, in addition, said he and his sister have been accompanying their mum to the Kombos in order to fulfil all the requirements for the pilgrimage and have spent a lot of money on these trips.
Mr. Bayo said he was the one communicating with the agent called Bangaly Sano to facilitate all the transactions. He said they were first told that a place had been secured in the flight but later informed that it was overbooked..
“The only thing we are now concerned about is that if our mum cannot secure a place in the hajj flight then our money, should be refunded without delay” he said.
The said agent, Mr. Sano, also confirmed that the travel agency told them that there were 5 places left as stand by.
“So after these people have paid to the agency they were informed that the flight was fully booked and there is no place for their pilgrim. But they asked me to go there on Monday to discuss with them as to whether to refund the money or retain it for next year’s pilgrimage,” he added.