The Prime Minister of Somalia, Hamza Abdi Barre, visited the Ministry of Religion and Endowment on Saturday to discuss the management of companies that want to
offer Hajj services.
Prime Minister Barre was briefed on the competitive bidding process during the meeting, and ministry leaders assured him that the ministry’s requirements would not burden those who wish to perform Hajj this year.
Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Ali, Minister of Religion and Endowment, also met with Prime Minister Barre and expressed his concern about the unnecessary fees charged by Hajj agencies seeking to profit more from pilgrims.
Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that every financially and physically capable Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime.
It is considered the most spiritual event a Muslim can have, with rituals performed in the most sacred places in the Islamic world.
The Prime Minister criticized Hajj agencies for adding these fees and explained that government officials should not set up illegal checkpoints to extract money from people who have sold their farms, homes, or businesses to perform Hajj. These illegal checkpoints, locally known as “isbaaro,” are a form of extortion whereby officials abuse their positions to extract money or resources through bribes from citizens.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs recently announced new criteria for companies willing to compete to provide Hajj services.
Prime Minister Barre assured that his government would transparently manage and monitor the companies delivering Hajj services. He also expressed his frustration at the high cost of Hajj for Somali pilgrims compared to the rest of East Africa.
According to him, while neighbouring countries charge $1,600 for Hajj, a Somali person has to pay $5,500 to $6,000, which creates an obstacle for someone who wants to worship God and perform the Hajj.