1,600 buses to transport 25 million worshipers in Makkah
Emir of Makkah has assigned five transport companies to provide public transport services to about 25 million pilgrims to the Grand Mosque
Emir of Makkah Prince Khaled Al-Faisal has assigned five transport companies to temporally provide public transport services to about 25 million pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, which officially starts today (Thursday).
The public transport vehicles are expected to make about 5 million trips during the fasting month.
Prince Khaled asked the transport companies to facilitate the transportation of pilgrims so that they are able to perform their rituals in ease and comfort.
The emir, who is chairman of the Central Haj Committee, asked all government departments and private establishments involved in the Haj services to make all necessary arrangements to provide pilgrims and worshippers with good services during the holy month.
He also told them to provide support services to security, health and other sectors.
A total of 1,600 buses will transport Umrah pilgrims and visitors from the various car parks to the Grand Mosque and back.
Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, last week approved the Civil Defense plan to deal with emergencies during the holy month of Ramadan in Makkah and Madinah.
The three-phase plan starts with a comprehensive survey of the places of accommodation of Umrah pilgrims and visitors and ensure that they meet safety conditions.
The second stage of the plan aims at the highest level of efficiency and speedy intervention in emergency cases by monitoring places frequented by Umrah pilgrims around the clock.
The third stage focuses on intensifying awareness and guidance programs for Umrah pilgrims, visitors and those serving them on safety measures in emergencies.
Dr. Mustafa Baljoun, director general of health affairs in Makkah region, has also approved the integrated and comprehensive Umrah plan to provide healthcare to pilgrims and visitors.
Two health centers in the Grand Mosque and 36 permanent health centers in Makkah will be in operation. Sixteen of these centers will work for 12 hours from the morning until midnight.
Meanwhile, King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah has braced itself to receive around 20,000 flights carrying more than 7 million Umrah pilgrims from all over the world until the end of Ramadan.
The terminal has 14 lounges for arrivals and departures. The terminal, with a total capacity of 60,000 pilgrims at a time, was opened last month. The terminal will work full force with enough staff to serve pilgrims until mid Shawwal (July 31).
There are four passport desks, two for arriving pilgrims and two for departing ones.
According to him, the service staff receive the pilgrims when they get off the plane, take them to the passport desks, customs and finally drive them by minibuses to the buses waiting to take them to Makkah or Madinah.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on June 18, 2015.