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Haj visas delay dealt with

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Roleplayers in the local haj industry have met with the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve a technical glitch that has delayed the issuing of visas.

On Thursday, South African Travel and Haj Operators Association (Sathoa) chairperson Sedick Steenkamp said hujaaj can breathe easier knowing that the issue has been dealt with and local operators are working around the clock to ensure the first batch of 170 hujaaj leave South Africa on Monday.

“I can confirm that there were no issues with the approval of visas but the Hajj Ministry has implemented a new computerised system world wide. By late Wednesday evening, haj operators were able to sort out all issues they had experienced with the system at the Saudi Embassy in Pretoria. Currently all haj operators are inserting the details of hujaaj in order to issue them with their visas for the first departure on Monday,” Steenkamp said.

This new system has been implemented by the Hajj Ministry to ensure an easier passage for hujaaj. According to Steenkamp, this new technology is a sophisticated addition to the haj industry.

“The ministry has said that his new e-Gate system has been implemented for a smoother journey for hujaaj and to address the issue of delays at airports due to the process of information,” Steenkamp added.

“All the contracting is done in the Saudi Kingdom before hand. Most of the operators have been in the kingdom to do the contracting on the new system.”

South African operators were met with a new challenge. They were required to insert passport information into the local embassy’s system using a e-Reader due to the state of the art technology. But Steenkamp said most of the local operators did not have compatible software. The outdated software caused a hitch with the haj operator system however this has now been sorted, Steenkamp said.

All processes the hujaaj will be met with on their journey has now been simplified and smoothed out due to the latest technology. While Steenkamp believes this will give local operators a heavier load, they are prepared to go the extra mile, to ensure hujaaj get the most that they can out of their spiritual journey. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)


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