JEDDAH: Some 200 domestic pilgrim service companies in the Kingdom could face a major transport crisis during this Haj season due to shortage of buses caused by political problems in Syria, one of the prime sources of buses.
Saad Al-Qurashi, president of the National Haj and Umrah Committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said preparations for the new Haj season were in full swing, and the companies had begun office procedures by opening registration counters.
“But they are still awaiting the Haj Ministry’s spot allocations for companies and institutions in the holy sites of Mina and Arafat,” he said. The delay in spot allocation, expected to be announced within 15 days, would affect the work of these companies, he added.
Recently, 754 Haj service companies have been merged to form 421 firms as part of efforts to improve services and reduce problems. However, some companies are still facing transport problems.
The recent developments in Syria have affected the availability of buses from that country, one of the most important and cheapest markets for buses. The Turkish market is facing shipping problems because of the border closure, the sources said.
Al-Qurashi said his committee would discuss all these problems with the Haj Ministry on Sept. 6. He hoped that buses would be imported from Egypt or other neighboring markets to solve the problem.
“If buses are not available from Turkey, the Egyptian market would be considered,” Al-Qurashi said. He ruled out resorting to the Jordanian market due to its high prices, stressing that the crisis could increase prices charged by local bus companies.