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14 September, 2015 00:00 00 AM
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Some saudi activists have pointed out that there has been negligence in the placement of the cranes around the mosque. Riyadh needs to scale down construction activity during periods like Hajj to decrease the chance of accidents, along with reviewing safety protocols especially where machinery and other equipment are concerned

Pre Hajj tragedy in Mecca

The pre Hajj tragedy– when ferocious winds caused a huge construction crane to collapse and crash killing 107 people at Mecca’s Masjidul Haram (Grand Mosque) ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage– sent shockwaves of sorrow throughout the Islamic world. It is not the first time that tragedy struck the pilgrims, although the Hajj has been practically incident-free in recent years. In 2006, several hundred people died in a stampede during the ‘Stoning of the Devil’ ritual in nearby Mina, following a similar incident two years earlier.
The Saudi authorities have been always careful to ensure an incident-free Hajj and make things easier for the pilgrims. Ramps and walkways to the al-Jamarat site had been widened and the tall obelisks which the faithful throw stones at to symbolically purge themselves of the devil had been rebuilt as stone walls 26 metres long. It had been hoped that by allowing people a greater area to pelt the religious monuments with pebbles, the site would be safer.
As incomes have risen globally and air travel has made distances shorter, the number of people visiting the holy cities in Saudi Arabia from all parts of the world has increased tremendously. To deal with this influx, Saudi authorities have launched a sweeping reconstruction drive to expand the capacity of the Grand Mosque. Yet some Saudi activists have pointed out that there has been negligence in the placement of the cranes around the mosque. Riyadh needs to scale down construction activity during periods like Hajj to decrease the chance of accidents, along with reviewing safety protocols especially where machinery and other equipment are concerned. Moreover, until the construction work is completed, perhaps the Saudis should reconsider the number of pilgrims allowed in for Hajj and ensure that it does not cross the limits set by safety considerations. With Hajj just days away, the Saudi authorities would do well to review all safety precautions and address the shortcomings before the actual pilgrimage gets under way.
On the other hand good infrastructure alone cannot ensure peaceful passage of Hajj seasons. Accidents can and will happen. We have our deepest sympathies for the victims and hope that the Hajj proceeds without any more unfortunate incidents.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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