By Olugbenga Salami
Ahead of this year’s holy pilgrimage, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has instructed Nigeria and other participating countries to enter contract agreement with selected services providers responsible for accommodation, catering, and transportation, latest by 15th of Shawwal, 1443AH equivalent to 16th May, 2022.
National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, which dropped the hint in a statement on Thursday, also disclosed that the screening and inspection of service providers’ documents and facilities in Saudi Arabia are ongoing.
The statement, issued by the NAHCON’s Assistant Director, Public Affairs, Hajiya Fatima Sanda Usara said the commission had earlier placed regulatory advertisements in Saudi Arabian newspapers calling for expression of interest in these fields with a deadline for submission that expired on April 30, 2022.
Usara listed the screening criteria for eligibility to be engaged in catering services as the current partnership arrangement with a Nigerian caterer(s), experience in feeding of Nigerian pilgrims, five years’ experience in the feeding field, proximity of kitchen to pilgrims’ accommodation, staff capacity, industrial facilities available, mobility, tax clearance etc.
She added that accommodation screening revolves around capacity of building, duly licensed building with tax clearance and in conformity with Saudi Arabian standards, distance from the Haram, well equipped dining area, adequate elevator facilities, and more.
According to her, NAHCON’s Director Inspectorate and Compliance, Alhaji Usman Aliyu Shamaki, is chairman of the screening committee while his members from the commission include the Deputy Director, States and Zones; Alidu Shutti, Deputy Director, Special Duties, Bashir Jazuli; Assistant Director, Research and Statistics Dalhatu Isa and the Executive Secretaries from Adamawa and Plateau States; Chairman Zamfara and Lagos pilgrims’ board and the Secretary as well as the representative of Nigerian Consulate in Jeddah.
The statement quoted Shamaki to have assured management that his team will expedite action in order to conclude the assignment in time for final submission to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.