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Makkah traffic study seeks solution to ease congestion
Makkah Governor Al-Faisal said a radical solution needed to address growing traffic congestion in Makkah, especially during Haj and Ramadan.
June 21, 2010 9:50 by Rasha Reslan
Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal on Sunday called for a radical solution to growing traffic congestion in the holy city of Makkah, especially during the peak Haj and Ramadan seasons.
“An immediate study must be conducted to find radical solutions to the traffic and pedestrian congestion in Makkah and other holy sites,” the governor said at a meeting on the issue. “The study must include modern solutions for the entry and exit of vehicles to and from the central region of Makkah in order to facilitate the movement of pilgrims. It should also propose the best means of transport that serve the purpose,” he said.
Prince Khaled said the study should be completed by Aug. 10 and include a time frame to implement the plan within the next 10 years.
“Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah wants radical solutions to the problem of traffic congestion in Makkah in order to facilitate the movement of vehicles and pedestrians,” he said.
Prince Khaled reiterated his plan to make Makkah the smartest city in the world by applying the most advanced technology. “I will personally supervise this project and make it a reality,” he added.
The meeting was attended by Sheikh Saleh Al-Hosain, head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, Makkah Mayor Osama Al-Bar, Abdul Aziz Al-Khudairi, undersecretary at Makkah Governorate, Deputy Haj Minister for Transport and Projects Sahl Al-Sabban and Director of Roads and Transport in the Makkah province Mufreh Al-Zahrani.
The meeting comes ahead of the opening of the SR6.7 billion Makkah Metro project this Haj season. The project, which was initiated three years ago, is expected to bring about a qualitative change in pilgrim transportation. More than two million faithful from around the world perform Haj every year.
The metro will spare Makkah from the influx of 50,000 cars. “This means it will largely contribute to resolving the traffic congestion problem that troubles the pilgrims and constitutes a main cause of accidents,” one official said.
The project is designed to transport 70,000 pilgrims in an hour between the holy sites of Makkah, Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah during the peak days of Haj. The project, covering 18 km, is in the final stages of construction. Thirty-five percent of its capacity will be used during this year’s Haj season. It will have 20 trains next year when it operates with full capacity.
The project includes construction of nine railway stations in Arafat, Mina and Muzdalifah, each 300 meters long. One station will be located near the Jamrat Bridge in Mina where the stoning ritual takes place. Pilgrims will be able to board the train from the bridge’s fourth floor.
Twenty percent of seats in the train will be allocated for the elderly, one official said. “It is expected that about half a million pilgrims will be transported from Arafat to Muzdalifah on the railway system,” he added.
Abdul Qader Al-Jabarti, chairman of the Haj Committee, has asked authorities to reduce the proposed charge for using the railway from SR250 to SR90. About 150,000 pilgrims from Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries will use the facility during the first phase.