(MENAFN - Arab News) The Health Department in Madinah has disqualified 26 bus drivers ferrying pilgrims during the current Haj season for drug abuse, according to a statement by an official of the department.
"The drivers were found using drugs or stimulants in routine laboratory tests of urine samples," said the director of the center for monitoring legal-medical Toxic and chemical substances at the health department, Hani Hussaini, in a press statement. The center, which has an office at the main pilgrim grouping area in Madinah, regularly collects urine samples from drivers contracted to transport pilgrims. The samples are sent immediately to the nearby King Fahd Hospital for tests, he said.
"Out of 9,508 drivers tested by the center, only 0.3 percent of them were found to be drug addicts," he said, adding that the center's activities have a significant role in reducing road accidents for pilgrims.
The center was established with the aim of guaranteeing the safety of pilgrims and the drivers, who transport pilgrims, particularly between Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites.
Hussaini added that courts in the Kingdom accept the center's reports as evidence in drug-related cases.
When preliminary test suggests any suspicion about a driver, the center sends an alert to the car syndicate, which in turn suspends the driver from his work temporarily, until the completion of further tests, to confirm the suspicion, Al-Madinah daily reported Sunday.
If the final tests confirm the driver's drug abuse, the center informs the departments concerned for necessary action to be taken against the driver. Moreover, advanced testing techniques are employed to confirm the test results, added the Al-Madinah report.
Steps are under way to establish an online database program for all drivers contracted for transporting pilgrims. The assistance of the Interior Ministry's National Information Center will be sought for updating the database.
The program also aims to include the dope test reports of each driver in the online data, which will be accessible to all related departments.
In a related development, the chairman of the supervision and support committee of the National Guides Organization said a meeting of the pilgrim service departments and agencies decided that all files on drivers should carry the stamp of the toxic and chemical substances center during each season.