Speaker of the Indonesian Parliament Mrs. Empress highlighted the neglect of the Indonesian haj pilgrims in Muzdalifah, after performing their wukuf prayer at Arafah. He emphasized that the government must have a strategy to anticipate emergency situations during the pilgrimage.
“I understand that the government and hajj officials have tried to provide the best service, but there must be improvement efforts so that in the future the haj pilgrimage can be better and not cause difficulties for our pilgrims,” Ma’am said in a statement dated Friday (30/6/2023).
According to Puan, there are thousands of Indonesian pilgrims who are stranded and stuck in Muzdalifah from dawn to evening waiting for the shuttle bus to go to Mina. They were reportedly sitting on the side of the road in the hot sun, where the temperature at that time reached 42 degrees Celsius without sufficient supplies of food and drink.
Puan said Hajj organizers need to have a crisis management system to anticipate unpredictable things.
“The incident at Muzdalifah is indeed out of control. We hope that in the future the management of the congregation’s shuttle service will be improved, including for food. How do we anticipate that in difficult, unavoidable conditions, the congregation remains comfortable and safe,” said Puan.
Puan hopes that the government will swiftly find a way out if an emergency situation occurs so that it can minimize the worst possibility. One of them, he said, is addressing the traffic congestion that often occurs.
It is known that the traffic flow from Mecca to Mina is congested, causing haj pilgrimage buses to get stuck and delay arriving at the congregation’s pick-up location.
“An incident like this can be a learning material so that in the future it will be better. In addition to anticipation, officers also need alertness,” said Puan.
Puan highlighted the quota of 30 percent of the elderly from the total pilgrims performing the Hajj this year. According to Puan, the elderly pilgrims should receive more attention because they tend to have difficulty completing the Hajj pilgrimage.
“The DPR realizes that the increased haj quota adds to the workload of the government and haj officials, so there must be more thorough preparation. Moreover, there are many elderly people for haj this time. In addition to having more officers, special treatment needs to be given more attention,” he said.
Based on data from the Integrated Hajj Information and Computerization System (Siskohat) of the Ministry of Religion (Kemenag) as of March 23, there are nearly 70 thousand elderly pilgrims departing in 2023. Recently, Indonesia has also received an additional quota of pilgrims so that this year there are 229,000 pilgrims who perform the pilgrimage. The number is more than 2 times the previous year which was only 100,000 worshipers.
Referring to this year’s experience, Puan asked the government to prepare accommodation and additional facilities for elderly pilgrims and persons with disabilities. One of them is adding a friendly transportation fleet for the group.
“In the field, currently many Hajj companions carry elderly pilgrims and people with disabilities because of the lack of friendly transportation for them. This is also an important point for the Government’s evaluation, because not all of our pilgrims are in good health,” said Puan.
The existing elderly and disabled friendly buses for Indonesian pilgrims are said to not be sufficient to accommodate the congregation. Moreover, the hot weather in Saudi Arabia and the high level of fatigue when performing the Hajj pilgrimage are one of the obstacles.
“There are our pilgrims who are forced to sleep outside their tents because it is overcrowded, including the elderly. This is our learning together on how to provide the best service for the congregation,” he said.
Apart from lacking in terms of facilities, the tents provided for Indonesian pilgrims were taken by many pilgrims who packed the Mina area. Puan also felt that the toilets for women were still inadequate, so the pilgrims had to wait in line to go to the toilet for up to an hour.
“Those things that sometimes escape our attention, but are actually crucial for the pilgrims. We hope this will be a note for the organizers of the Hajj, who next year must be able to find a solution for the comfort and safety of the pilgrims,” explained Puan.
Puan hopes that the government can pay attention to the quality of assistance from Hajj officials, especially for the elderly. He asked a companion from Saudi Arabia so that the Indonesian congregation would not be stranded.
“There must be an evaluation on the part of the Hajj companion, due to the factor of elderly pilgrims who must receive full assistance,” said Puan.
“There should not be any pilgrims who are neglected due to the lack of the number of Hajj companions which has an impact on service,” he concluded.
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