(MENAFN - Arab News) Adnan Hariri stressed these units will be working around the clock to record cases at the field in daily records, prepare necessary reports for the working groups, and follow up its functioning by submitting these reports to the competent authority for accounting the defaulting company or institution in the service of pilgrims. This is to guarantee the rights of the pilgrims the Ministry of Haj, represented in its public pilgrims services administration, care for.
Hariri stressed the role of the department of Haj at Jeddah's Islamic Port in combating the phenomenon of pilgrims squatting public places, such as the passenger terminal, sidewalks, and streets. To overcome this issue, anything related to the squatting pilgrims will be recorded at the facts and information unit, and the company or organization responsible for these cases will be notified to remove them from the site as a matter of urgency after taking the required pledge from the delegate of the company or institution.
The department of Haj in Jeddah's Islamic Port has declared its own operational plan for the Umrah season of the current year, 1434 A.H., which began at the first day of Safar (Dec. 14, 2012) and will continue until the last day of Shawal (Sept. 6, 2013). The plan aims to monitor and develop the level of service provided to the pilgrims at the port and facilitate the procedures when receiving the arriving pilgrims to expedite their travel, each according to his destination. It will also focus on following up with the Umrah institutions and companies during the reception of pilgrims from Tasheel - the company authorized to receive pilgrims at the entry points - to help complete the process of traveling to Makkah and Madinah.
The director of the department of Haj at the port and acting supervisor of the pilgrims services of the Haj Ministry, Adnan Hariri, in an exclusive interview with Arab News reporter Nadim Al-Hamid, stated the plan would be carried out across four units representing reception, farewell, coordination, information, action, investigation, and follow-up.
The deadline for pilgrims to leave to their country through the port at the end of the season is Shawal 15, 1434H (Aug. 22, 2013), and the time frame of the operation plan is from Muharram 07, 1434H (Nov. 21, 2012) until the end of Shawal 1434H (Sept. 6, 2013). The work sites of this plan are the Pilgrims services center at the City of the Sea Pilgrims - a compound accommodating pilgrims - and its surrounding squares, as well as the center of pilgrims in Jeddah Islamic Port, the pilgrim reception lounge, departure lounge, and surrounding areas.
Hariri pointed out that the operational plan for the management of Jeddah's Islamic Port is carried out through qualified Saudi cadres involved in the work field and devoted to the service of pilgrims. The plan will be carried out through other supporters, such as shipping companies, to know when is the arrival of pilgrims.
The health quarantine affairs will also participate through inspecting pilgrims, as will the Passport Department of Jeddah at the Islamic Port through checking and removing any constraints or issues facing pilgrims when recording their entry. The Customs Office and Border Patrol unity of Jeddah Islamic Port will participate through overcoming any obstacles that may rise when busses enter the port, and overseeing the area to ensure it is free of small busses and cars with unauthorized access.
Regarding the business units distribution and its entrusted tasks, Hariri stated that the reception and farewell units would be in charge of following up and facilitating the role of the Tasheel company in the reception and farewell of the companies and institutions pilgrims. The employees will be wearing uniforms and carry identification cards in order to be known, and they will be present on an ongoing basis and ready to receive the flights four hours before their arrival time. There will be no less than 35 employees per shift, and this number will be multiplied during peak times, taking into account that one group will be tasked with receiving and welcoming the pilgrims, and the other with working on the counters to finish necessary procedures and escort pilgrims to the busses.
Hariri hinted that this unit would follow the flow of pilgrims, starting from their arrival to the terminal and passport counters and as they pass through all the necessary procedures, until they are grouped and send for Umrah. This process would be overlooked by the Tasheel company, which, on behalf of Umrah corporations and institutions, receives pilgrims at the arrival hall and facilitates their departure at the port terminal. This company also receives ferries and representatives of transportation companies and conducts statistical surveys of companies from whom representatives did not attend to finalize the procedures of grouping the pilgrims to send them to Makkah and Madinah after receiving them from the Tasheel company.
The careful management of Haj in Jeddah Islamic Port occurs through field units and relevant personnel who scan the field after the end of each ferry carrying pilgrims to make sure the port and halls are completely free from all pilgrims before the busses leave, Hariri said. In addition, follow-ups are conducted by relevant officials in the departure halls and by the Tasheel company, which facilitates the area inside the lounge and in the external areas to make sure that it is free of all pilgrims. In the case of a pilgrim that has missed a ferry, the pilgrim is transported to the respective host company to make a new reservation for the pilgrim to leave the country.
He stated there is continuous coordination with the port security units to ensure that the only busses entering are those with appropriate signs on the windshield of the bus indicating the name of the contractor, external agent, destination, and the hotel name. The sign must have a size of 50 by 50 cm, and the information must be printed in large black font. Busses should enter the arrival space at the right time.
The most important tasks of the coordination units are the direct coordination with all the shipping companies regarding ferry scheduling as well as exchange of arrival and departure information through e-mail at least 24 hours prior to arrival or departure, and coordinating with the department of Jeddah Islamic Port on the schedule of ferries for pilgrims. Tasks also include following up about ferries that are canceled or late. The units are to follow up with the port operations and navigational control tower and control room at the port regarding the docking of ferries carrying pilgrims, and the transfer of pilgrims from the dock to the arrival hall for entry procedures.
Hariri confirmed that the focus of the coordination units is to coordinate with the security unit of the port to prepare the terminal for the arrival of foreign pilgrims by freeing it of small cars and private taxis and allow for the busses with the appropriate signs to enter. The focus is also to quickly transfer the pilgrims according to their destinations by coordinating with the ministry's monitoring and surveillance committees in Makkah and Madinah at the height of pilgrim departure periods not less than 24 hours to make sure their bookings are confirmed on the same ferry departure, and to group them as per the departure ferry upon their arrival to the departure lounge at least six hours before departure, so they can leave on the same ferry. They coordinate with the passport authorities after docking the ferry that will carry the pilgrims who have confirmed bookings and who hold boarding cards. They also assure the departure lounges are ready to receive departing pilgrims.
He reported that the functions of the information, procedures, and investigation unit is centered on direct contact with Umrah companies and institutions as well as with Tasheel companies to update the new locations for offices as well as land phone, faxes, and mobile numbers for the continuous coordination of urgent and necessary cases. He stated that all the facts registered at the daily records would be referred to this unit to investigate and take appropriate actions.
The unit will also prepare statistics about the numbers of the arrived and departed pilgrims per month for submission to the general pilgrims services administration, and inform companies or institutions required for review. Finally, there will be a follow-up unit, which monitors the presence and departure of employees for all shifts as well as all absences and delays at the end of each month to the competent authority.
By NADIM AL-HAMID