Transportation of pilgrims crucial part of Haj operation

22,000 seasonal visas and 17,000 buses for Haj

Buses carrying Haj pilgrims in operation. — Courtesy photo

Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — The inland transportation of pilgrims is one of vital part of Haj operations, ferrying pilgrims from various entry points into two holy cities and also navigating a sea of humanity in between holy sites of Makkah during Haj, and is one of the most-challenging job.

Saudi Arabia has been successfully proving its excellence in transporting of pilgrims through the General Motor Syndicate. Among the seasonal visas of Haj, it is the General Motor Syndicate that gets lion’s share.

This year the syndicate has recruited 22,000 seasonal drivers from Sudan and Egypt to operate the pilgrims’ buses, according to its officials.

Twenty-seven transport companies, under the umbrella of General Motor Syndicate, are pressing 17,378 buses into services for the Haj season, according to Mohammed Qazi, general secretary of the syndicate.

He said that over 850 buses would be kept on stand by to meet any urgent needs or for alternative arrangement purpose. This year the syndicate is transporting over 1.5 million pilgrims, much higher than the previous year.

The increase in the frequency of buses in the holy cities and also from Mina to Haram would be the core theme of this year’s Haj plan, he added.

Qazi said that syndicate had set up its plan six month ahead of Haj and all aspects had been taken into consideration.

He said that special centers will be established in Arafat and Muzdalifah to enhance the service and also for real time monitoring of vehicular movement.

He added that these centers would be having all state-of-the-art facilities where special orientation and training classes would be held for drivers.

Qazi added that the syndicate is operating scores of service support centers along with highways of Makkah and Madinah to render quick response to reach the spot and fix any vehicular issues, that is reported.

He also revealed that the syndicate’s working guidelines have been issued by the Ministry of Transport where passenger safety and comfort is top priority.

Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, governor of Makkah region, held review meeting Prince Abdullah Bin Bandar, deputy governor of Makkah, to review the preparedness of all services. The Emir personally visited the transport operational headquarters to review the transport action plan.

Haj and Umrah Minister Mohammed Benten too is personally following the day to day operational activities of the transport sector, according to Haj Ministry officials.

For the first time the Ministry of Health is checking the health condition of drivers, especially ensuring that they do not have a habit of consuming drugs and intoxicated substances.