Five hundred and forty Muslim pilgrims from Bauchi State were on Tuesday stranded at the Gombe Airport, following a delayed flight to Saudi Arabia.
It was learnt that the pilgrims got to the airport at 2pm with the hope that they would be conveyed almost immediately.
But they waited for the aircraft till 10pm without any information about the flight.
A source, which spoke in confidence, said the pilgrims lay on the bare floor after they had been screened by relevant officials.
Some of the pilgrims told our reporter that they had not eaten anything since they left Bauchi at 11am.
They said their first shock was that the aircraft, which was to convey them at 5pm, was not available and no information was being given on it.
The pilgrims were upset by the alleged lukewarm attitude of the officials of the airline, which was scheduled to convey them.
It was learnt that the officials did not show concern about the condition of the pilgrims and how to ameliorate the situation.
At 8.30pm, a heavy rain was said to have started.
Some of the pilgrims, who were already lying on the floor, ran into the reception of the international wing of the airport to avoid catching cold.
Officials of the Bauchi State Pilgrims Welfare Board declined to comment on the matter.
They said only the House of Assembly Speaker Yahaya Miya, who is also the Deputy Amirul-Hajj, was competent to speak with reporters.
At 9pm, a pilot car belonging to the Speaker brought food and drinks from Bauchi for the pilgrims.
Kabo Airline’s Manager, Alhaji Abubakar Usman, told our reporter on phone that the thunderstorm that accompanied a heavy rain caused the delayed flight.
He said the aircraft would be provided as soon as officials of the Control Tower at Gombe Airport gave clearance about the weather.
Usman said: “We are considering safety first. We thought between 6.30pm and 7pm we would start conveying them, but the thunderstorm did not allow us.
“Weather is a phenomenon from God. Even if you are in a car and encounter a problem, you have to hold on for a while.”
It was also learnt that the first batch of pilgrims from the state was scheduled to take off by 9pm on Sunday but was delayed until 4.10am on Monday.
Category: Bauchi State News