Bandar Seri Begawan – In the wake of the terrible accident that killed a woman and a teenage girl and hospitalised three men out of a family of seven last Saturday as they were heading to Medina from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to carry out the Umrah pilgrimage, the public has raised concerns over the Haj/ Umrah “packaging”.
“The proper authorities should look into this matter,” remarked a senior civil servant, who declined to be named, adding: “Our tour operators should carry out due diligence with regards to every aspect in the provision of the facilities they offer, not just the condition of the rooms but also, as we have seen, the condition of the drivers that they hire or employ.”
Another informed source familiar with the Haj and Umrah arrangements concurred saying, “It is quite common for Bruneians when they go on the Haj or Umrah, despite travelling under a travel agency, to make their own transport arrangements.”
Asked why this would pose a problem, he replied: “When you have made arrangements with a travel agency, you would have paid insurance and be under the care of that particular company. They would have their officers or representatives onboard their chartered transports. But when people make their own arrangements, then the insurance would not be applicable if something happens and you would also have to sort things out with the authorities, hospitals etc yourselves.”
Taking this recent tragedy into account, he added, “Maybe it is time for the authorities or the travel agents to enforce a rule that forbids customers already booked under a package from making alternative arrangements, for their own safety and comfort.
“As Muslims, we accept that everything that happens as Allah’s will. But surely, we can and must also ensure that the travel agents have prepared and checked every possible contingency to reduce the risk of such accidents from repeating in the future.”
A senior citizen, who has performed the Haj and Umrah pilgrimage several times, acknowledged from his personal experience saying, “Driving conditions in Saudi Arabia are sometimes frightful, especially during the peak Haj season. But it doesn’t mean that the tour operators have to choose any driver. With this terrible experience, I think they (operators) should now really look into the matter and seriously assess the drivers they employ.”– Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
Bandar Seri Begawan – The three Umrah pilgrims who survived Saturday night’s road accident whilst on their way to the Holy City of Medina in Saudi Arabia are now in stable condition and are expected to be discharged over the next few days, a family member told the Bulletin yesterday.
The family members, who had earlier that evening just arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah, were travelling in a mini bus, which collided with a trailer after it was confirmed by autopsy reports that the driver had indeed suffered a heart attack and lost control of the vehicle, killing the wife and granddaughter of 90-yearold Brunei imam, Pengiran Haji Mohd Yusof Pengiran Sabtu.
“I only received this devastating news on Sunday morning,” explained the son-in-law of the imam, Haji Sufri Haji Ali.
“My sister-in-law had earlier sent me a text message informing me that they were on their way to Medina. Halfan-hour later, she sent another text saying that they met with an accident,” Hj Sufri added.
“That was the last message that she sent to us, and we’re all still in a state of shock.”
Darussalam Holdings Sdn Bhd, in charge of arranging the Umrah packages and ensuring the welfare of the family, in a press release yesterday in response to enquiries from the Bulletin, confirmed that the three family members that were admitted to the King Fand Hospital in Medina, are now in stable condition and are still undergoing medical treatment.
Pengiran Haji Mohd Yusof, a former religious teacher and imam in his nineties who led prayers at the Kampong Mata-Mata mosque for several years, “is scheduled to be discharged from the Intensive Care Unit and transferred to a normal ward today and is currently in a stable condition”, Darussalam Holding’s statement read.
The other injured passenger, Pengiran Haji Sulaiman Pengiran Haji Mohd Yusof, “only suffered minor head injuries and is scheduled to be discharged today”, the statement continued.
The third passenger and nephew of Pengiran Haji Mohd Yusof,MuhammadAbdul Qawi Hj Terudin, is stillreported to be in a critical condition and undergoing treatment at the hospital.
Pengiran Hajah Setia Pengiran Mohammad, who died in the accident, will be buried with her granddaughter in the Holy City of Medina, where their immediate family members are scheduled to go on Wednesday for the last rites.
“We need to see them before the burial. Our family is still in pain and shock and they need our support right now so we need to get there as soon as possible,” said Hj Sufri.
Darussalam Holdings, with help from other agencies, is providing the necessary arrangements to fly the immediate family members to Saudi Arabia for the burial.
“Darussalam Holdings is being very compassionate by helping us with the tickets and our visa arrangements. The response from the Brunei Embassy in Riyadh has also been very helpful, and so has the Immigration Department for being extremely supportive in this matter so we can fly out as soon as possible for the funeral,” Hj Sufri said.
“Now, we are asking everyone to pray for our family members who are still in hospital and for our family to help us get through this difficult time in our lives,” he added. — Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin