The Office of the Upper West Regional (UWR) Chief Imam has called for the establishment of a passport office in Wa, to reduce huge burdens and risks pilgrims go through every year to secure their passport for the pilgrimage.
The Office expressed worry that Ghana’s smallest region had been denied a passport office for far too long, which often compel Hajj travellers to make 303-kilometre journey or 188 miles to Tamale while others go to Sunyani which is about 352.4 kilometres from Wa, the UWR capital, to process their passports.
Alhaji Baba Dawud, the Secretary to the UWR Chief Imam who made the call in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said the situation compounds challenges of pilgrims yearly and imposes undue travelling costs and its associated risks on the people.
The absence of a regional passport office does not only distress pilgrims from the Region but also served as impediment to business minded persons to carry out commercial transactions, he said.
The intention of every Muslim was to perform Hajj at least once in his or her life time, which Alhaji Dawud noted remained a special place in the hearts of the people of the Region with 11 districts and 11 constituencies.
He added that the growing demand and the opportunity for the performance of Hajj as part of ways for every Muslim to accomplish the five pillars of Islam were critical for the opening of a passport office in the Region.
“It has come to the realization that a number of factors impede the performance of Hajj that are so scary any time the announcement is heard about the performance of Hajj,” he said.
Alhaji Dawud also said most prospective pilgrims were very old and travelling such long distances to Sunyani or Tamale to acquire a travelling passport could pose serious health risks to them.
“It will therefore be much appreciated if the government could establish a passport office in the Upper West Region to facilitate easy travel to Mecca and back,” he pleaded.