By Â Kenneth Ehigiator
The federal government has set up a special monitoring on the 2009 Hajj Muslim airlift to Saudi Arabia to stave off any hitch in the process.
The committee is, amongst others, charged with the responsibility of ensuring that pilgrimsâ€™ welfare was adequately managed, mitigate baggage loss and ensure prompt arrival of pilgrims for their flights to and from the Holy land.
Senior Special Adviser to the president on Aviation, Capt. Sheu Usman Iyal, told Vanguard in Lagos that the committee was President Umaru Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s way of ensuring that the pilgrims had a memorable time during this yearâ€™s airlift.
Capt. Iyal, who is also chairman of the monitoring committee, said the committee had gone as far as checking food to be served pilgrims on board the aircraft to ensure they met international standards.
At the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, where 294 pilgrims were airlifted aboard Medview Airlinesâ€™ Boeing 767-300ER, Capt Iyal met with the cabin crew of the aircraft to ensure that the food they had on board was rich in both quality and quantity.
This, he said, would trail every flight that would take off across the country, taking pilgrims to the Holy land.
According to him, every aspect of the airlift would be handled with professionals with aviation background.
Capt. Iyal, who is also the vice chairman of aviation committee of the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), said the committee has adopted a new policy of tracking pilgrims luggage to stave off baggage loss.
He said the committee had already deployed personnel to Hajj camps at airports in Abuja, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Yola to ensure that pilgrimsâ€™ luggage were properly labelled for easy identification to prevent misplacement.
He said NAHCON would insist that no pilgrim took more than 50kgs of luggage on board the aircraft on their return journey home, and advised the pilgrims not to spend their money on frivolous things that would tempt them to accumulate excess luggage.
Iyal also disclosed that the monitoring committee had been charged with the responsibility of ensuring that very old, under-aged and pregnant women did not make the trip to the Holy land, stressing that had largely been responsible for the high mortality rate among Nigerian pilgrims in the Holy land in the past.