The Saudi government admits providing transportation for millions of pilgrims who began flooding the holy city of Mecca for pilgrimage is quite challenging.
“We welcome almost 2.5 million pilgrims this year and providing transportation for all these pilgrims is a challenge,” Saudi Arabia’s Transport Minister Dr. Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi told AFP.
According to al-Amoudi, 7,400 pilgrims arrived this year via Jeddah and Medina airports and more than 18,000 buses were deployed for the purpose.
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam that is required by every able Muslim, once in a lifetime.
A special bus route connecting three stages of pilgrimage will bring 360,000 people this year, another record according to the transport minister.
The bus route that opened in 2010 is different because it only operates five days a year.
Most of the 2.49 million pilgrims participating in the pilgrimage this year, arrived in Saudi Arabia by air and only a few thousand via land and sea routes.
The pilgrims also visit to Medina, to pay the respect and prayers in the mosque of the last messenger as obligatory pilgrimage.
At the end of September, a high-speed train linked Makkah and Medina in just two and a half hours, reducing the previous travel time.
This year, the railway called Haramain will transport between 20,000 and 30,000 Hajj pilgrims, before gradually increasing its capacity next year, Al-Amoudi said.
For the area around Mecca, transportation throughout the month of pilgrimage is still chaotic. Saudi government is working for the betterment plans.
The smoke emitted by thousands of buses not only caused pollution but also forced pilgrims on the summit of Mount Arafah to wear a nose cover.
“Following the pollution generated by the bus, we are considering appropriate measures to reduce the emissions,” the transport minister said.