Haj regulations to ease congestion

By NNN-Bernama,

Mecca : The Emir of Mecca, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal described the 2010 Haj pilgrimage as “driven by hope” following the introduction of the new train service to ease congestion and bus services whisking pilgrims across the holy sites in half an hour.

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The Saudi Gazette newspaper quoted the Emir speaking at the launch of the 3rd national Haj regulations awareness campaign in Mecca Saturday, saying that other measures would also assist in addressing congestion.

“Small vehicles with passenger capacity of less than 25 will be barred from the holy sites, thereby keeping out over 30,000 vehicles of local pilgrims during the Haj season.

“And a one-way bus trip across the holy sites will take no more than half an hour under the new transport arrangements,” said Prince Khaled.

The Emir warned Haj operators, however, that they faced investigation and punishment if they attempted to “deceive pilgrims,” but praised the success of the “No Permit, No Haj” law.

“The Haj permit regulation has cut out many violations in the Haj season, notably squatting and blocking traffic.

“It was brought in to promote and organize a systmatic Haj arrangement and has proved successful over the last two years, and I thank the goverment bodies and media outlets that have enabled that to happen,” he said.

Prince Khaled also appealed to philanthropists providing food and drink to pilgrims without permits to instead pay for their Haj expenses and have them hosted with Haj operators.

He also urged tighter security at Mecca entry points to end the iussue of pilgrims without permits and mitigate against the consequences of persons on unauthorized pilgrimages.