Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 12th 2013 Contents GEISHA KOWLESSAR
The Hajj Council is urging people to use only
licensed operators for the annual sacred Hajj pil-
grimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, so they will not
be duped by fraudsters.
Making the call yesterday was the council s chair-
man Zabar Baksh after the organisation and four
licensed tour operators met with acting Foreign
Affairs Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal at the Ministry
of Housing, South Quay, Port-of-Spain.
Moonilal is also the Housing Minister.
The meeting also addressed an incident last
month in which 87 Muslims were left in tears at
Piarco Airport after they were denied visas to travel
to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage by the consulate
The group complained then they had spent an
estimated $20,000 each to book hotels, transport
and other costs.
Baksh said because of fraudulent activities world-
wide fraudsters were pocketing people s money
instead of delivering Hajj packages.
He said all countries had a quota for the pil-
grimage and this year for T&T it was dropped by
20 per cent from 300 to about 240, owing to ren-
ovation works in Mecca.
"The 87 people who were refused Hajj were not
booked with licensed operators and that should be
a no no in Trinidad," Baksh said.
He said when he had to get his licence he spent
80 days in Saudi Arabia doing the paperwork which
included a profile on a person s ability to operate
Asked about the exorbitant fees to go to Mecca,
which resulted in many poor people being left out,
Baksh said: "Poor people are not supposed to go
to Hajj. Hajj is obligatory only on people who could
"If you buy a Cortina, you get a Cortina. You
don t expect to get a Rolls Royce for a Cortina
price... it s a matter of what you pay for."
Moonilal said the government enjoyed good rela-
tions with the Saudi Arabian Government which
annually sent officials to process visas.
Saying there was always a greater demand than
supply, Moonilal added: "The Government of Saudia
Arabia has indicated they have restricted the num-
bers of persons attending Hajj annually because
they are involved in major infrastructural devel-
"We have been asked as a government to assist
citizens who in some cases have paid their monies
and were traumatised by the failure to obtain the
Describing yesterday s meeting with official oper-
ators as fruitful, the Housing Minister also urged
people to follow procedure and work through estab-
"We are open to further discussion by other
groups and we are open to further discussions also
on how best we could assist all citizens who may
be desirous of undertaking this journey," Moonilal
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Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, November 12, 2013
The water taxi service to Chaguara-
mas is not being well-utilised by the
public, says Sharon Taylor, project
director of water taxi services at
National Infrastructure Development
Company Limited (Nidco).
In an interview with the T&T
Guardian yesterday, Taylor said the
service between Port-of-Spain and
Chaguaramas, which began on October
7, had got off to a slow start.
It began in July with weekend trips
to the peninsula and expanded last
month to include sailings during the
week and on public holidays.
The sailings cost $15 and follow a
weekday schedule with two morning
round trips and one in the afternoon.
The boat docks at a private dock at
La Soufriere near the Chaguaramas
There is also a shuttle from La
Soufriere to take people to their place
of work in Chaguaramas.
"It takes 20 minutes at most to get
to Port-of-Spain from Chaguaramas
and you also get to see the beautiful
coastline, as opposed to being stuck
in traffic," Taylor said.
While she said passenger numbers
had not yet been compiled, she said
they seemed to be low.
"We have only just started and things
are slow," she added.
Taylor said Nidco had just completed
a survey in the area to determine the
needs of residents.
She added: "More marketing work
has to be done and we are trying to
engage and find out the different hours
of work so we can better serve the
"We will look at the survey results
and if we have to adjust the sailing
schedule, then that is what we will do."
Taylor said Nidco had suggested
sailing times from the Chaguaramas
Development Authority (CDA) which
had lobbied for the service initially.
Nidco is working on constructing a
permanent terminal for the water taxis.
Taylor said Nidco was still discussing
other options for expanding the service
but could not provide details.
Council: Use only approved operators
Chairman of the Hajj Council of Trinidad and Tobago, Zabar Baksh, left, address members of the media while
Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal listens during the council's press conference at the Ministry of Housing,
South Quay, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
Slow start to Chag
water taxi sailings
Prostate surgery for Archbishop
Harris underwent surgery
yesterday at the St Clair
Medical Centre, Port-of-
Spain, to treat a prostate
disorder, a release from
the Catholic Media Serv-
ices Ltd stated.
"Surgery on Archbishop
Joseph Harris has gone
well and the attending
surgeon Mr Leon Lilas is pleased with
the outcome of the surgery to this
point. The operation took four hours,"
according to Auxiliary Bishop Robert
It is expected that Harris will take
three weeks to one month to recu-
perate from the surgery. A further
update will be given in a
couple of days, the release
In San Fernando,
Catholics made time to
visit church, where they
prayed for the archbishop s
speedy recovery. In a tele-
phone interview, Msgr
Christian Pereira said
churchgoers at the church
of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San
Fernando and other parishes were
keeping the archbishop in their prayers
while they awaited news of his health.
In March, Harris had tests at the
St Clair Medical Centre after falling
ill just before a retreat at the Our Lady
of Lourdes RC Church, Maraval.
Archbishop Joseph Harris
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