By Yankuba Jallow
Foroyaa has been reliably informed that the last batch of Gambian pilgrims in Mecca have been returned to Jeddah with no official information advance for the cancellation of the flight.
Foroyaa has been reliably informed that the pilgrims were at the airport awaiting their flight to come to The Gambia, but were sent back to the hotel without any explanations by the airline staff.
The Muslim pilgrimage commonly referred to as the Hajj has ended 13 days ago.
Family members told Foroyaa that their loved ones are in Jeddah and are not told when they will return home.
“They (the pilgrims) do not know whether they will come or not. They are just told to wait,” family members told Foroyaa.
“They should have come last night (Friday). I came purposely from the provinces to welcome my wife. I came with my children, unfortunately, she (the wife) has sent us a voice message indicating that their flight has been cancelled without any explanations by the travel agency,” the husband to one of the pilgrims told Foroyaa in an interview.
He said his wife went with the last flight of the Gambian pilgrims and she is supposed to come with the last flight.
“My wife told me that they have been evacuated from the airport to a hotel in Jeddah at 7 am (Gambian time) on Friday which was 4 am in Mecca,” he added.
He said his wife has decried that they were dumped at the hotel without any food and information provided for them.
He continued: “She told me they were only served lunch at the airport but when they reached the hotel, they were abandoned and they did not have dinner and breakfast the following day. She said they did not see any agent of the airline agency or a member of the Hajj Commission or a representative of the Gambian embassy in Saudi Arabia.”
He said the wife went with Banjul Travel Agency.
Other family members told Foroyaa that this was not expected of the travel agencies and therefore, their loved ones shouldn’t have been evacuated to the hotel without any explanations.
Last year, the last flights of Gambian pilgrims faced similar issues and were transited to Dakar where they boarded buses to come to The Gambia.
“We wouldn’t want our loved ones to face the same ordeal,” one of them said.
We made attempts to speak to the travel agencies, but all attempts proved unsuccessful. Foroyaa will engage the airline agencies today to know why the flight has been delayed.