(end of Surat Luqman and Surat ul-Ahzaab) Sheikh Hudhaify
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|Hi-tech Jamrat facility fully operational|
Badea Abu Al-Naja Arab News
MINA: Saudi authorities have completed the construction of the five-story Jamrat Bridge in Mina, enabling pilgrims to make full use of the high-tech facility this year for stoning the Jamrat.
The SR4.5 billion project aims to ensure a smooth flow of thousands of pilgrims during the ritual. Many pilgrims have, in the past, died in stampedes while carrying out this rite.
“We’ll not allow pilgrims to squat along the roads leading to the Jamrat,” said Maj. Gen. Saad Al-Khelaiwi, assistant commander of Haj Security Forces. “We’ll also monitor and control the flow of pilgrims,” he added.
He said the Jamrat Bridge would not be able to accommodate more than 300,000 pilgrims an hour. “So we have appointed 19 commanders along the roads to stop pilgrims when the number exceeds 300,000.”
Addressing a press conference in Mina, Al-Khelaiwi said pilgrims would not be allowed to carry large bags while going to perform the stoning ritual, adding that more than 12,000 men would be taking part in the operation.
Maj. Muhammad Al-Shahri, commander of the Command and Control Center, said his center has the ability to monitor all operation areas. “We have installed more than 1,850 cameras in different parts of the holy sites and the Grand Mosque,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Khidr Al-Zahrani, assistant commander for Security Affairs, said his forces would focus on preventing crimes.
“We have established about 30 police stations in the holy sites to receive pilgrims’ complaints.”
The state-of-the-art Jamrat Bridge is designed to accommodate five million pilgrims. It has 10 entrances and 12 exits distributed over the four levels plus others to accommodate pilgrims coming from different directions. There are some more works pending: construction of four helipad towers and eight escalator towers, which will be ready next year.
Another major project is currently underway to redesign and develop Arafat at a cost of SR500 million. The first phase of the project was begun earlier this year and will cost about SR170 million. It consists of reconstructing roads, service utilities, tent locations, leveling eight small rocky outcroppings, and a sewage network for rain and floodwater.
Once completed, it will be easy for pilgrims to enter and exit Arafat. The service roads and emergency exits will be clearly marked. The leveling of the outcroppings will provide an empty area that can accommodate some 100,000 pilgrims. It will also provide space for the construction of more than 200 toilets and a major road 700 meters long and 30 meters wide.
— With input from Anwar Al-Sayed