From Suleiman Idris in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
The authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in charge of Hajj said they have deviced measures that will prevent stampede and loss of lives and properties usually associated with the stoning of the devil at Muna after observing the Arafat day.
The measures according to them includes; dividing pilgrims into groups while an electronic gadgets monitors the groups’ leaders to the venue and their return to their various tents in Mina.
At a practical demonstration exercise and visitation to Hajj rites’ sites in Mecca, Representative of the National Hajj Commission in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr Aliyu Tanko told journalists on the tour that arrangement have been made to have dedicated buses positioned to convey Nigerian pilgrims to Arafaat, Mina, and Muzdalifah.
He said the decision follows series of meetings with the Saudi authorities and representatives of countries whose citizens are performing the annual religious exercise on how best to prevent casualties and loss of lives in one of the most important parts of the hajj exercise in Mecca.
He said, “Every year, ideas come on how to improve the process and avoid any kind of casualty; the authorities have therefore come up with measures to control the movement to the Jamurat because that is usually the source of casualties every year. So to avoid any such situation, they have come up with new ideas on how to protect the lives of the pilgrims.”
According to the NAHCON official, “the Saudi authorities have expressed serious concern about Nigeria, owing to its position as the country with one third of pilgrims from the whole of Non-Arab Africa.”
Particularly, he explained that the authorities have a whole portion of road dedicated to Nigeria at Musdalifa from where they would board buses back to Mina whilst they urged states officials to ensure orderliness and compliance from their pilgrims.
Musdalifa is the location where pilgrims return to offer Maghreb and Ishai prayers after mounting the Mount Arafat, before proceeding to cast stones at Jamurat.
“After Arafat and after Sunset, it has been said that people should not pray Maghreb until they arrive the Musdalifa to combine both Maghreb and Ishai. In the past, some pilgrims would go to Musdalifa, while some would go to Mina, and some would get lost and find themselves in Makkah; not in their tent in Mina.”
Dr. Tanko added that “This is therefore an idea to make the hajj process easy, safe and at reasonable time. It is usually pilgrims who choose to go individually that get lost because of the similarities of the roads and the congestion of pilgrims.”
To this end, he called on states officials to adequately educate their contingent n the new measures.