Govt to punish fake Haj service providers

The Ministry of Haj has a plan in place to crack down on fake operators and those failing to provide proper services for pilgrims this year, such as electricity supply, air conditioning and rest rooms in Makkah and Madinah.

This emerged at a meeting held recently between the ministry, Civil Defense and the Tawafa establishments. The plan is based on records of complaints and observations compiled during last year’s Haj by officials from the three parties.

Maj. Gen. Abed Al-Sukhairi, commander of the Civil Defense for the Haj, said it was important for all government agencies to be ready early this year for the annual pilgrimage.

He said all agencies record complaints and poor service delivery provision during Haj every year so that mistakes can be rectified. “If it wasn’t for these notes we would not be able to raise the level of services offered to pilgrims,” he said.

He said the Civil Defense’s priority is to ensure the safety of pilgrims and property, especially at the holy sites in Makkah and Madinah. “We make every effort to ensure the safety of all souls. We have plans in place, in coordination with other agencies, to prevent accidents from happening in the upcoming Haj season,” he said.

Hussein Al-Sharif, the ministry’s undersecretary, said there has been a clear allocation of tasks among all government agencies including the Tawafa establishments for this year’s Haj.
Al-Sharif said the ministry would penalize companies found breaking the law. It would also launch a public awareness program to warn citizens and expatriates about fake Haj companies operating in the market.

He said the ministry is working with the Control and Investigation Bureau to hold workshops on issues that came up last year. The ministry has also suggested that the Ministry of Finance assist with Haj planning, especially with projects in Mina. The ministry wants to involve the company responsible for maintaining the Mina camp, and get expertise from the water and electricity operators in the country.

He said the ministry has not received any information yet that it has to take preparations to tackle the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The Ministry of Health is responsible for dealing with this issue. In addition, Muslim countries around the world have not issued MERS advisories for their Umrah and Haj pilgrims, he said.

Al-Sharif said that discussions are taking place on how to deal with street vendors who obstruct traffic at the holy sites every year.

Among the ministry’s successful campaigns last year was one launched to educate people about the importance of getting Haj permits, he said.




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