By MAKKAH: ARAB NEWS | Arab News
All preparations and arrangements for ferrying hundreds of thousands of Umrah pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque during Ramadan are in place, according to senior transport officials.
Muhammad Madani, director of Transport and Road Department in Makkah, said that more than 950 Saudi Public Transport Company (SAPTCO) buses would operate shuttle services to and from eight bus stations in the Haram central area and various destinations in the city during the holy month.
Saad Al-Qurashi, chairman of the transport committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that SAPTCO buses are expected to operate 9,500 shuttle services daily, and a total of 285,000 services, until the end of Ramadan. They will carry an estimated five million people in their trips, while taking into account both the arrival and return trips of pilgrims and visitors between their places of stay and the Grand Mosque, more than one time a day.
Al-Qurashi said that the committee has introduced more buses to cope with the anticipated huge increase in the number of pilgrims during the peak season of Umrah in Ramadan this year. He hopes that many major transport companies will come forward as well to offer transport services for the pilgrims.
“We are keen not to repeat any faults from the past while offering transport services to pilgrims. Our efforts are focused on offering the best quality of services possible for the pilgrims,” he said.
On his part, Madani urged pilgrims, visitors and residents of Makkah to take advantage of the public transport services in order to reduce traffic congestion during the month.
There are eight stations in the Haram where SAPTCO buses will take passengers.
Ali Gate station: Linking the Haram parking area in Mohbis Jinn with parking areas in the west of Makkah and Al-Sharaie.
King Abdul Aziz Gate Station: Linking Haram with Kudai hotels and regions located west and south of Rusaifa parking areas.
Shubaika Transport Station: Linking Haram with northern and western districts of Makkah.
Ajyad Al-Masafi Station: Linking Haram with parking areas of vehicles coming from Jeddah Expressway, Al-Laith road and Taif Al-Hada road.
Ajyad Al-Sadd Station: Linking Haram with north and south Aziziya.
Rjyad Al-Qusoor and Souk Al-Saghir Tunnels Station: Linking Haram with various destinations along King Abdul Aziz Road.
Al-Ghazza Station: Linking Haram with the eastern and northern districts of Makkah and ferrying pilgrims from various hotels.
Al-Raquba Station: Linking Haram with parking areas of vehicles coming from Madinah Road and parking areas of Al-Zahir and hotels located in northern and western parts of Makkah.
Brig. Gen. Mishal Al-Maghrabi, director of the traffic department in Makkah, said that a special traffic plan has been worked out to transport pilgrims to and from their hotels and the Grand Mosque. There are five designated routes for ferrying these pilgrims.
Abdullah Al-Sawat, executive director of the Makkah branch of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), said that the Ramadan transportation plan calls on hotels to provide parking space for the vehicles of their guests, thus avoiding a situation of having to park vehicles on streets creating traffic congestion.