(MENAFN - Arab News) The Makkah Administrative Court will begin looking into cases filed by tawafa establishments against Mashair Railway seeking damages amounting to SR 500 million this week, a court source said.
The tawafa establishments claimed they had suffered huge losses because of a 90-minute delay in the running of Mashair Railway trains on the day of the Standing at the Arafat on Oct. 25. An unprecedented rush and the ensuing chaos resulted in a stampede in which a number of pilgrims were injured at the railway stations.
While the tawafa establishments and the Mashair Railway authorities blamed each other for the unfortunate events, Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal ordered an inquiry into the matter.
Tawafa establishments are responsible for bringing pilgrims to the stations at their appointed time.
The establishments will submit video recordings and photos of what happened at the station to support their claims, Al-Hayat newspaper reported yesterday.
The plaintiffs also planned to request the court in another petition to stop any future government move to ban the aggrieved companies from using the train service during Haj, another source said.
A recent report of international experts assigned to investigate the delay of trains said Mashair Railway had been operating flawlessly and could not be held responsible for the delay. The report blamed tawafa establishments for the chaos at the stations.
A member of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Saad Al-Qarhsi, however, said the experts' report did not keep the tawafa establishments from seeking justice and demanding damages for losses.
Al-Qarhsi said, "125 tawafa establishments will file damage suits worth SR 500 million against the railway to cover the losses they suffered following their failure to fulfill their agreements with domestic pilgrims."
The committee's reports said an analysis of the data supplied by the cameras in the railway stations showed that the stampede occurred outside the fenced railway stations.
The report also discovered that some tawafa establishments helped pilgrims without tickets to board trains.
Another point highlighted in the experts' report was that along the six kilometers of the railway track from Station 1 to Station 3 in Arafat a huge number of pilgrims without permits was camped and at the time of sunset they forcibly entered the railway stations as security men failed to stop them.
The report added that the pilgrims without tickets blocked the ticket-carrying pilgrims at the front gates. They had to be brought to the train through the rear gate, which needed more time than expected. The report also noted the failure of many legitimate pilgrim groups to keep to their time schedules, a major factor that would have helped trains to run on time.
The report estimated the number of ticket-less travelers at between 150,000 and 200,000 pilgrims on the day of Arafat. The trains were originally required to transport about half a million pilgrims. Now they had been forced to carry close to three quarters of a