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Over 100 prospective pilgrims stranded

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By Omar Bah

The permanent secretary at the ministry of lands and religious affairs, Buba Sanyang, has confirmed about 105 prospective Gambian pilgrims are stranded in Banjul because they were not issued with visas to travel.

The pilgrims said they bought their tickets from a certain Huloolu Travel Agency. The first batch of 78 were booked to travel on Friday through Royal Air Maroc but their visas never came. The Standard contacted the management of Huloolu Travel Agency but the voice on the other end said the agency can only comment on the matter Wednesday evening. 

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However, speaking in a Kerr Fatou exclusive, PS Sanyang said Huloolu Travel Agency was not among the 12 agencies shortlisted  to airlift Gambian pilgrims to Mecca. He said The Gambia was allocated about 2000 slots which were distributed between 12 travel agencies. He said all the Gambian pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia.

“The last batch of 343 left yesterday [Friday],” he said.

“We heard about the company when they started advertising, I contacted them and informed them that they are not licensed and that they should not advertise based on Gambia’s quota because we have already allocated all the quotas to the different agencies. The head of the Hajj Commission also invited them to his office and advised them to stop but they refused,” PS Sanyang said. He said the ministry was not aware that the agency was selling tickets to pilgrims.

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“If we knew we would have stopped them immediately,” he said.

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