Baggage pilferage irks Lanka expats

Updated 15 October 2014
0

Baggage pilferage irks Lanka expats

As if incidents of pilfering the baggage of workers returning from the Kingdom at Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) weren’t enough, passengers are now complaining of baggage being lost altogether at the other end.
The latest victim was Rohaan Samath, who lost one of his suitcases at the BIA when he arrived in Colombo via SriLankan Airlines.
Samath told Arab News that he lodged a complaint with the airlines, but after 21 days, has still not heard any word.
“We have traveled many times to Sri Lanka on Saudi Arabian Airlines and never lost a single bag,” the passenger said, blaming the island’s national carrier for its negligence in mishandling the baggage and possible thefts at Colombo airport. Samath has returned to Riyadh and had filed a claim for the loss of his baggage.
“Its not the money,” he said. “We take things from here to our loved ones and if we do not get it when we are in Colombo, what is the point?”
“It is disappointing that SriLankan Airlines does not go the extra mile to serve its passengers.”
Mohammed Mansur, a banker who returned from Colombo, said the airline’s service has deteriorated in recent times. “I have a frequent flyer card, which entitles me to business class check-in,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I was pushed into long economy class queues, both at Riyadh airport and at BIA,” Mansur said, adding that airline officials do not respect their own frequent flyer card.
This is despite the fact that Mansur holds a SriLankan Airlines ‘Smile’ classic card, as well as a ‘Oneworld-Ruby’ card. A returning housemaid from the Middle East, meanwhile, recently had SR7,000 worth of cash and gold stolen after she landed at Colombo airport.
She has lodged a complaint with the airport police that her bags had been stolen, presumably while they were being transferred from the flight to the baggage belt.
The BIA police said that they had arrested one suspect, but that another suspect had evaded arrest.
Police had recovered part of the stolen cash from the arrested suspect, while the gold has not been recovered yet.
Police sources said it was the third such incident this year and that there had been many incidents according to the suspects’ confession.
About seven suspects had been arrested so far this year and some of them had been bailed out after being produced in court. They stole anything and everything, from undergarments to mobile phones and cameras, from the baggage of arriving passengers at the airport. A Sri Lankan attached to a foreign mission in the Kingdom told Arab News that he lost his brand new laptop at the Colombo airport.
“I found my laptop missing upon opening the baggage at home, but I could not do anything since I had already left the airport,” he said.
Mohammed Ali said that during his last trip to Colombo, he found that his bag had been rummaged through and its contents thrown out onto the belt after finding nothing expensive inside.
“Airport authorities should carefully monitor the baggage handled by the porters,” he added.
The modus operandi is to identify an unlocked bag that comes via conveyor belt from the flight and gather around it when it reaches a certain point, from where it is taken out for loading and stolen from.
“Two to three porters stand guard while one steals,” an airport officer said.


All eyes on Mina as Hajj begins today

A Hajj security man takes care of a child. Security forces have been deployed around the clock to deal with all emergency cases. (SPA)
Updated 19 August 2018
0

All eyes on Mina as Hajj begins today

JEDDAH: Around 2 million pilgrims arrived in the Holy Land from outside and inside the Kingdom in preparation to set out from Makkah for Mina.
They will retrace the noble tradition of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and spend the Tarwiyah Day on Sunday in Mina. Here they will make final preparations for the Standing (Wuquf) at Arafat, which marks the climax of the annual pilgrimage, on Monday.
To be able to serve the pilgrims and enable them to perform Hajj rituals with ease and comfort, the government and private sectors concerned with Hajj and pilgrim affairs intensify their preparations, under the direct supervision of Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, adviser to King Salman, the governor of Makkah region and chairman of the Central Hajj Committee, and followed up by his deputy, Prince Abdullah bin Bandar.
The Ministry of Health will provide intensive and continuous health services supported by skillful human cadres and state-of-the-art medical technologies, in order to provide the best health services for pilgrims. The Ministry of Health has employed a total of 29,495 physicians, pharmacists, nurses and technicians to provide extensive health care to the pilgrims.
According to the ministry, its manpower during the Hajj consists of 780 consultants in various medical specializations, 1,248 specialists; 2,718 general practitioners; 1,428 pharmacists; 3,553 nurses; 1,173 technicians and lab specialists; 198 specialists in nutrition; 5,587 administrators; 165 engineers; and 1,491 ambulance drivers.
The General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque will operate and maintain all technical devices and systems of lighting, air-conditioning and ventilation, sound and control systems, cameras, communication devices and electrical stairs, buildings and libraries in the Two Holy Mosques.
Air-conditioning has been installed in the basement and ground floor and many other areas. Thousands of fans have been installed in the Two Holy Mosques and their yards.
The area around the Two Holy Mosques has been equipped with more than 8,441 toilets, as well as more than 6,000 ablution units. All power supply lines have been prepared to make sure there is power 24/7.
More than 10,000 male and female employees will be available to follow up on work and monitor it during Ramadan, in addition to a large number of cleaners.
Among the services also provided by the Presidency are translation of Friday sermons into 10 languages, organization of various scientific programs, and competitions.
A total of 210 doors in the Grand Mosque and 100 doors in the Prophet’s Mosque have been prepared, as well as 28 escalators in the Grand Mosque and four escalators in the Prophet’s Mosque. There are 38 doors for people with special needs and seven for women.
The Saudi Red Crescent deployed 127 emergency centers, 361 ambulances, 20 motorbikes, and more than 1,861 people to work in the ranges of Makkah and Madinah.
There will be 22 operational hospitals in Madinah and the holy sites, 15 temporary emergency centers, supported with more than 87 ambulances and 653 paramedics.
The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs mobilized its human and mechanical capabilities to enable pilgrims to perform their duties in a safe and healthy environment by employing more than 26,000 individuals and 717 mechanisms to implement the hygiene plan in Makkah and the holy sites, as well as specialized field teams to control 33,069 food facilities in Makkah.
Civil defense teams will be deployed around the clock to deal with all emergency cases, where the injuries will be transferred using stretchers and wheelchairs to several medical evacuation sites inside and outside the mosque.
These teams will also be carrying out extraction and rescue operations inside the Holy Mosque and the surrounding area, in addition to providing urgent first aid, and transferring critical cases to the nearest hospitals and health centers, in coordination with the Red Crescent teams around the Holy Mosque. The Hajj security forces leaderships announced their readiness to maintain the security and safety of pilgrims during the pilgrimage season.
The General Command of the Air General Security is supported by all the security services and various government sectors.
In preparation for the Hajj season, the Saudi General Security Aviation Command announced that it has started implementing the first phase of its security plan to ensure the safety of pilgrims in the Kingdom. The aviation command will commence security operations over the holy sites, where special helicopters will monitor the activities surrounding the Hajj season this year. The planes are stationed in the designated locations in Makkah and Madinah from various bases to carry out the tasks assigned to them, namely traffic and security, logistical support for other security bodies, humanitarian services and the monitoring of pilgrims not following the rules.