The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria has cautioned caterers engaged to feed Nigerian pilgrims in Madina against rendering poor services.
The Commission’s Head of Madina Feeding Committee, Bilqis Awah, issued the warning in Madina on Friday.
She said this while answering questions from newsmen shortly after inspecting the kitchen of one of the caterers.
Awah, who vowed that the commission would not allow any caterer to shortchange Nigerian pilgrims, enjoined the caterers to adhere strictly to the agreed timetable and menu.
She revealed that the committee had agreed with the caterers to make food available to the pilgrims for breakfast latest by 6am and 5pm to 6pm for dinner.
Awah said that the committee had disqualified one of the caterers that failed to honour the agreement with the commission and declared a “free food” of another erring caterer.
She said: “We have deployed our members to monitor caterers in each hotel that Nigerian pilgrims are accommodated.
“One of the responsibilities of the committee is supervision.
“And once we receive the food, it is handed over to each of the State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards for onward distribution to the pilgrims.”
According to Awah, the committee, before handing over the food to state officials, makes sure that the quantity and quality are good.
She, however, said: “If the state officials are not satisfied with the food, then the committee will take immediate action.
“From the beginning, we started very well with the caterers.
“Though we have an approval of 10 caterers, but we cannot ask them to start delivering food to the pilgrims all at the same time.
“On our arrival, we held a meeting with all the caterers and thereafter inspected their kitchens and we became convinced that they were capable of handling the assignment.
“Out of 10, we discovered that six were capable of starting immediately and they all started very well.
“Unfortunately two days later, some of them started disappointing us by bringing the food late, which actually we didn’t take it likely with them.”
According to her, they were sanctioned by stopping them from supplying food, adding: “Because she delivered food to the pilgrims around 11:30pm, which is abnormal, and we declared her food free.”
Awah said the committee immediately reported to the commission’s Madina Coordinator, Alhaji Ibrahim Mahmud, who summoned a meeting with all the caterers and warned them against such unacceptable attitude.
She reiterated the commitment of the committee to continue to do everything possible within the ambit of the law to ensure that Nigeria pilgrims get value for their money.
Responding, one of the caterers, Bilkisu Suleiman, the Managing Director, Zahra Mashair Kitchen, said the company was engaged by NAHCON to feed 10,000 pilgrims of Zamfara, Sokoto, Jigawa and Lagos States.
She said that the company had put all the necessary measures in place to deliver an effective service to the pilgrims.
Suleiman said: “We are determined to ensure timely delivery of food to the pilgrims in order to meet up with the expectations of both NAHCON and the pilgrims.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that feeding and accommodation arrangements are under the purview of NAHCON in Madina.
However, the States’ Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards and agencies take charge of such services in Makkah.