Ahead of 2016 hajj exercise, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria said on Tuesday that about 4,000 buses used by Nigerian pilgrims would be replaced by Saudi Arabia government.
The Chairman of NAHCON, Abdullahi Mohammed, gave the cheering news during a courtesy call by a delegation of the Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria to the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
Mohammed said the recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Saudi Arabia as well as the efforts of the Commission and other stakeholders led to the securing of better deals for Nigerian pilgrims.
Mohammed said the gesture by the Saudi Arabia authorities would be applicable from this year’s hajj.
He said: “The Saudi Arabia authorities have assured us that only buses from 2008 models would be used by our pilgrims and that about 4,000 of the existing buses would be withdrawn and replaced with new ones.
“The visit of President Muhammadu Buhari also led to the Saudi Government assuring us that there would be change in the location of Nigeria’s tent in Mina to be closer to the Jamrat (station of the symbolic stoning of the devils).”
Mohammed said due to the weather prediction that hajj seasons will fall in hot weathers for some years from now, the Saudi Arabia Government has promised to improve the cooling system in the tents and the camps too.
The chairman commiserated with MMPN over the death of Hajia Bilikisu Yusuf in the 2015 Mina stampede, saying she died while serving female pilgrims as an official of the commission.
Earlier, the MMPN Chairman, Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Balogun, represented by the Vice Chairman, Hajiya Medina Dauda, said the association was committed to assisting the commission to realise its objectives.
Balogun said there was the need for the commission to work in partnership with the MMPN for the overall mutual benefits of the two bodies.
He, however, advised the commission to be more open and make information available to the media for dissemination to the members of the public.