With the Hajj pilgrimage now drawing to a close, hajj authorities report that despite some minor logistical challenges, the rollout of the pilgrimage has been incident free over the past five days. By Tuesday, most hujjaj had completed the pelting of the Jamarat and will now return to Makkah to perform the Tawaf al-Ifada around the Kaaba.
Speaking to VOC on Tuesday, South African Travel and Hajj Operators Association’s (Sathoa) chairperson, Sedick Steenkamp, said although the rain on Arafah had been a welcome respite from the soaring heat, the aftermath of the downpour proved to be a challenge.
“This year, on the day of Arafat, the rain came down…there have been camps where some of the mattresses got wet, tents were leaking and we had to deal with that. Those are the tests and blessings Allah puts forward,” said Steenkamp.
“We are also aware that there have been shortages of beds and that things have been congested…but in terms of food, the pelting, making sure people are comfortable and the availability of ablution facilities, all these things have been in place.”
Steenkamp added that while the shortage of beds was addressed, it has been noted as an issue that needs to be considered in future.
“Hajj, from a logistics point of view, is always very challenging. There are always issues in Hajj logistics that can be looked at,” he said.
“Alhamdulillah, given the amount of people, things have gone fairly smooth.”
However, journalist Faizel Patel said authorities have been working tirelessly to resolve the flooding situation and the entire hajj process has been smooth-flowing thanks to the guidance of officials.
“Authorities have been working around the clock,” said Patel.
“Everything is back to normal and everyone is happy. It’s smooth-flowing when you go in to pelt and there’s no point in standing there longer than necessary. There have been officials from the time you enter, to guide you.”
The first group of returning hujjaj are expected to arrive by Friday this week.
“Today is the second day of pelting and then 90% of pilgrims leave Mina while 10% stay for the third day. Operators are busy organising departures,” said Steenkamp.