Stranded Hajj Pilgrims Protest Flight Delay, Demand Govt Intervention in Kwara

By Alimi Michael, KWARA |

A group of frustrated Hajj pilgrims blocked the Ilorin to Ogbomosho Expressway on Friday, protesting a three-day flight delay caused by a faulty airplane at Ilorin International Airport.

Scheduled to depart for Saudi Arabia, the pilgrims expressed their frustration and disappointment over the prolonged delay.

The protest resulted in significant traffic congestion on the expressway, affecting commuters and other road users.

The pilgrims demanded a solution to the issue and a timely departure to Saudi Arabia, noting that Saturday is the deadline set by the Arabian authorities.

According to a source at Ilorin International Airport, the flight delay is due to technical difficulties requiring expert attention.

The plane reportedly has issues with its socket and chain, which local mechanics cannot fix.

The airport staff, who pleaded anonymity, revealed that the repairs need specialised expertise, complicating the situation further.

This revelation highlights the severity of the problem, which has left hundreds of pilgrims stranded and frustrated.

While airport authorities have yet to comment, the staff’s information suggests that the delay may continue until the necessary repairs are made by qualified professionals or another airplane is provided.

“I am not an engineer, but what I hear from the terminal is that the plane has a socket and chain problem.

“Calls and messages have been sent out for a new airplane, but I don’t know why it’s taking time to arrive.

“This has never happened before in the history of this airport, and I haven’t heard anything like this, but I believe a solution will be found in due time,” said another airport staff member.

In an exclusive interview with our correspondent, Salaudeen Alapo, a Hajj pilgrim, expressed his frustration over the delay.

Alapo revealed they were originally scheduled to depart on Wednesday, but the faulty plane has prevented their departure.

Alapo’s concerns mirror those of hundreds of other pilgrims facing similar delays.

The faulty plane has caused a ripple effect, leaving many stranded and anxious to reach their destination.

“We were supposed to leave on Wednesday, but the plane’s issues have grounded us.

“We’re worried and frustrated because we don’t know when we’ll be able to depart,” Alapo said.

“The final two batches, 9 and 10, are still waiting to leave. Officials have assured us that a quick solution is forthcoming, pending the arrival of another airplane.

“If a new plane arrives, some pilgrims from batches 9 and 10 will be selected to proceed with their journey, bringing relief to those still waiting.”

“In a surprising turn of events, we were called to board the plane at 5 p.m. yesterday, leading us to believe the repairs had been completed.

“We remained on the plane until 7 p.m., only to be told the issue persisted, and we would need to disembark. To our frustration, we were informed the plane was still unfit for flight, and we would be returned to our respective camps, dashing our hopes of a timely departure.”

“Due to concerns that we might be left behind at the camp, we opted to spend the night on the airport floor, waiting until this morning to ensure we wouldn’t miss our chance to depart.

“With Saturday being the last day for Arafat, we were determined to stay close to the airport and avoid any potential delays or abandonment at the camp.”

“Despite our presence at the airport since this morning, officials have neglected to address us or provide any updates.

“Feeling abandoned and left in limbo, we’ve lost all hope. With no money left, most of us are completely penniless, we’ve been forced to speak out in desperation, fearing that our funds will be wasted if our journey is canceled.

“We’re fighting to make our voices heard and find a solution.”

“We urgently appeal to our government to intervene and resolve our situation, as many of us have gone without food since morning.

“We are in dire need of assistance, and we hope our leaders will take immediate action to address our plight and provide the necessary support.”

At the time of this report, the situation remains volatile and tense, with authorities scrambling to de-escalate the crisis and maintain order.

Various military units are attempting to contain the frustrated pilgrims, who are growing increasingly agitated.

Efforts are also underway to resolve the issue and restore peace, but the situation remains precarious.

About Funmilayo Ojo

Funmilayo Ojo is a Mass Communication Graduate. She is a prolific writer and a journalist who is gifted in Media works. She is also a business tycoon. She is currently the Regional Editor, of Southwest National Telescope Newspaper. She is happily married to Femi and they are blessed with lovely kids. Email: sweditor@nationaltelescope.com

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