Independent Hajj Reporters, a civil society organisation, has called on states Pilgrims Welfare Boards to commence preparation for the 2028 rxetcise.
They said this would enable them to avoid hitches that may lead to the smooth conduct of the religious obligation next year.
This was contained in a statement jointly signed by its national coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed and Publicity Secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud on Wednesday.
It said: “We urge states pilgrims welfare boards to commence early preparation for 2018 hajj in order to avoid last minute arrangements that could lead to hiccups ahead Hajj 2018.
“Independent Hajj Reporters is aware that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has kick started the preparation and implementation of 2018 hajj blueprint, even before the return airlift of 2017 hajj pilgrims came to a close.
“Recently, the apex hajj regulatory body placed advertorials inviting tour operators to apply for 2018 hajj seat allocation – a critical step forward.
“To complement NAHCON, States pilgrims board should begins the process of enlightening potential pilgrims on the need to register early. It is our belief that most of the challenges faced during this year’s hajj were due to late registration of pilgrims,” the statement said.
The group reminded stakeholders to factor the derivative lessons of the 2017 exetcise when late registration and its attendant controversy nearly jeopardised the exercise.
“Securing and signing contracts for accommodation, screening and appointing air carries, mandatory deposits for services like Car syndicates, Pilgrims tents in Mina and Arafat, United Agent Services, payment for feeding and other logistics should be done early,” IHR said.
The group said that ‘countries like India, Indonesia and Bangladesh has since began full scale preparation for 2018 hajj.
Meanwhile, the group also urged NAHCON to advise service providers to partake in pilgrims enlightenment programmes.
“As critical stakeholders, service provides should invest in pilgrims orientation to complement what NAHCON and states’ pilgrims boards are doing in that regard. Pilgrims needs to know the nature of services they (Hajj Service Providers) offer.”
The statement stressed that “early preparations will give room to rectify any unforseen challenges that can slow down the implementation of 2018 hajj operations blueprint.”