Clean-up operations are on-going at the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah, following Friday’s tragic accident in which a crane collapsed on a section of the iconic mosque, killing 107 pilgrims. While movement has been restricted, authorities in the Saudi Kingdom have vowed that the haj pilgrimage will go on as per normal.
The biggest talking point bar the crane collapse has been an announcement by the Minister of Hajj in the Saudi Kingdom indicating a halt in quota cuts from next year onwards. There has also been talk of a possible increase, with Saudi authorities hoping to expand the overall quota by 30 million within the next 5 years.
“When we look at that number, then obviously SA must be in the queue for an increase in quota. I can tell you that Sahuc again will do everything in our power to make sure we have a quota that will help us reduce the numbers we have in the waiting queue,” said Shaheen Essop, president of the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (Sahuc).
On a local front the majority of hujaaj have since left for Saudi Arabia, with the last of those accredited via Sahuc set to depart on Monday.
“I do believe those who have been issued with courtesy visas from the embassy directly may still be leaving later in the week,” noted Essop.
Those in the kingdom have begun the migration from the holy cities towards the area of Aziziyah where the haram is situated, although the biggest movement is expected to take place on the 1st of Thul-Hijjah. With this, Essop said a shift in mind-set would accompany pilgrims, with their focus now firmly locked on the approaching journey.
“They’ve enjoyed the benefits of Makkah and Medina and now in Azizia, but now they will need to find themselves a position to get their minds in the right place for the five days of Hajj.” he added.
The holy pilgrimage is expected to kick off early next week. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)