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Makkah Metro rail service to begin operations for haj season

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On Monday, the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Makkah Metro rail service will begin operations. It will operate non-stop for seven days from 4am beginning 7 Thul hijjah (Sept 21) to 13 Thul hijjah, to transport the more than three million haj pilgrims between Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafah, which are among the locations to perform the prescribed rituals of the Haj.

Among those anxiously waiting for the rail service to begin operation are Prasarana Malaysia Berhad (Prasarana) staff who are now at the holy land.

“We have made the necessary preparations since May, but recalling my experience at the job last year, it can be worrying as we are dealing with hundreds of people entering the station to use the service.

“The scenario is very much different from my job with Rapid KL,” said Mohamad Fauzi Abdul Manap, 37, who was the Taman Melati LRT station manager.

Connecting nine stations in Arafah, Mudzalifah and Mina, locations where pilgrims would perform their haj rituals, the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah rail service handles not less than 370,000 passengers daily.

Pilgrims from the Middle East, South Africa and South Asia will be the ones to benefit the most from the rail service as their camps are located along the 18 km stretch of the rail track between the depot, near Arafah, and Jamarat.

During the last haj season, Mohamad Fauzi was head of Arafah 2 station, but for the current season, he has been tasked to head the Arafat 1 station and would be supervising 150 staff.

“The most challenging time will be on Wukuf Day at Arafah. Hundreds of pilgrims will use the train service during a five-hour period to fulfill the haj ritual.

“Everybody will be rushing and in this situation, the station head will have to show a high level of discipline, dedication and creativity,” he added.

Despite the challenging job, Mohamad Fauzi said he was happy to be selected again to be in the team to operate the Al Mashaeer Al Mugaddassah rail service.

“It indirectly proves that my service is appreciated. I thank Prasarana for that, because I know many are keen to work here,” he added.

Fauzi, who has three children, were among 12 Prasarana staff and 28 staff of Express Rail Link (ERL) offered by China Railway Construction Consortium (CRCC) to facilitate operation of the train service last year.

This year, Mohamad Fauzi is among more than 400 staff of Prasarana, ERL and Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad, who will be involved in the train operation for the current haj season.

“It is exciting working with my Malaysian colleagues again. As the ‘old’ one here, I’ll share my experience and knowledge with them.

“Our objective is the same, to give the best serve possible and to prove to the world that Malaysians are capable of doing the job,” he added.
Mohamad Fauzi, who is from Ipoh, Perak said he hoped to be selected again to work with the Makkah train service for the next haj season.

“If possible, I want to be part of the teaching force at Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah,” he said, adding that Prasarana had been awarded a three-year contract until 2017 to manage the train service.

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