Mataf Bridge Opens For Pilgrims; Grand Mosque Provides 12000 Wheelchairs

Makkah, July 27: At the orders of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, President of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais opened the temporary mataf bridge for disabled and elderly worshippers.
Al-Sudais said the 12-meter-wide and 13-meter-high bridge can accommodate 1700 wheelchairs in one hour.
He added that one more level will be opened later and it will be linked to the first floor of the Grand Mosque. The bridge will be used by disabled people until the completion of the expansion work, the Sheikh added.
The expansion of the mataf started on November 15. The expansion was undertaken at the orders of King Abdullah with the aim of increasing the comfort and safety of pilgrims. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Haj and Umrah Studies prepared a study on how to implement the expansion project.
The study recommended using the available space and potential of the mataf to the maximum while maintaining the architectural features of the Grand Mosque using advanced technology. After the completion of the mataf expansion work, its capacity will increase to 105,000 pilgrims per hour. The capacity fell to 22,000 pilgrims per hour during the expansion period from 48,000 pilgrims. 
Meanwhile amid efforts to make pilgrimage easier for the disabled, the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques has provided 12,000 standard wheelchairs and 110 electric wheelchairs free of charge for their movement inside the mosque.
The standard wheelchairs are available at offices at the Eastern Square and the Ajayd. The powered versions are supplied from the Al-Safa office on the first floor where 521 wheelchairs are also available on rent, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
“A number of volunteers are also ready to push wheelchairs around the clock,” said Director of Wheelchairs Administration at the Grand Mosque Muslih Al-Mahmadi.
Wheelchairs allow worshippers into the mosque through 10 gates such as the King Abdul Aziz, the Ajyad New, the Honain, Al-Safa, Arqam Escalator, Al-Marwah Escalator and Al-Marwah.
After the Tawaf Bridge was formally opened today, all the wheelchairs were allowed to enter the Mataf Bridge though the Ajyad bridge and exit through the New Qushasha bridge at the Al-Marwa side of the Grand Mosque.
The Haram police, emergency forces and Civil Defense will help regulate wheelchair-bound pilgrims when the Mataf Bridge is opened.
He added that the presidency and the wheelchair administration have jointly taken steps to curb the practice of some unlicensed wheelchair pushers charging high rates from pilgrims, especially at peak hours.
He also called on all the wheelchair users to keep their own tracks on the mataf in order not to obstruct the smooth flow of circumambulation. COURTESY ARAB NEWS

Lastupdate on : Sat, 27 Jul 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 27 Jul 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 28 Jul 2013 00:00:00 IST

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