Saudi Arabia takes steps to ease movement of pilgrims

Fatima Hassan, Makkah

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj has introduced a new measure to simplify the movement of pilgrims during the stoning ritual, for security and safety reasons.

The Head of Makkah operations for the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, Dr. Aliyu Tanko, stated this in Makkah at an enlightenment programme for pilgrims on the new arrangement by the authority.

Dr. Tanko said the new measure was an effort by the Saudi Authority to prevent a repeat of the stampede disaster of last year’s hajj.

In order to avoid a repeat of the disaster, the Saudi ministry has decided to schedule the stoning ritual in batches for all countries.

The Nigerian officials have also provided the services of guides who will be leading Nigerian pilgrims in batches of 250 people, from their tents in Minna to Jamarat for the stoning ritual.

These guides are people who know the terrain very well. We have enough trained guides for all our pilgrims. We have about 18 to 20 for each state.

Insha Allah by this arrangement, the issue of our pilgrims missing their way back from Jamarat which used to be rampant before is now over,” Dr Tanko stated.

He added that the schedule by the Saudi authorities will be circulated among Nigerian pilgrims.

Some Nigerian Pilgrims have expressed satisfaction with the new arrangement, stating that it would enable them observe the symbolic stoning of the devil with ease.

’’Usually when we go to Muzdalifah  or to jamrat a lot of pilgrims used to get confused and lost their ways but by the new procedure I think it is going to be easier for us because the movement is going to be according to batches  instead of dumping the pilgrims to go at once’’ said Hafsat Abdullahi, from Adamawa state.

In an enlightenment forum on the new arrangement for the Armed Forces pilgrims, the leader of the Nigerian Armed forces Hajj team, Colonel Shehu Mustapha commended the Saudi Arabia Authority and NAHCON for the new arrangement.

‘’This measure change is due to what happen during last year’s hajj, the new step would alleviate the difficulties and experienced faced by  pilgrims in observing  stoning  ritual during hajj.’’

In the past years, the procedure involved in the chain of performing the hajj ritual was that pilgrims after their stay on the plane of Arafat proceed to Muzdalifa to spend the night and then the next day move to Jamarat for the symbolic stoning of the devil.