Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News – 2013-07-30
As the beautiful month of Ramadaan draws to close Muslims across the world reap and extract every ounce of benefit from this holy month. Others, however, take advantage of this auspicious month to make a quick buck in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Arab News reports that Taxi drivers, for instance, increase their fares despite the government facilitating transport for pilgrims. Private vehicles are usually stopped from entering Makkah mid-month during Ramadan, but this year they’ve been stopped from the very beginning.
Buses transport pilgrims to the Grand Mosque from the Shumaisi car park, which is almost 20 km away. Taxis are also available for those who can afford them.
Tanzeem Hasan said “Buses are available at SR5 per person, but these buses drop passengers far away from the Grand Mosque, which is a problem for the elderly and for people with health conditions. Many, however, cannot afford taking a cab since they charge SR150 knowing that there are no other cars available to take them.”
A taxi ride from Jeddah to Makkah can cost anything between SR60 to SR70 on normal days, but during Ramadaan the price increases to SR100 and SR150 for larger cars.
However a taxi driver by the name of Abdulaziz rebutted saying, “We charge what the ministry stipulates. Before Ramadan began, officials from the Transportation Ministry came and fixed a rate of SR150 for large taxis and SR100 for small cars transporting passengers from the Shumaisi car park to the Grand Mosque. There is nothing we can do about that.”
What’s disconcerting thought is that even free wheelchairs provided by the Saudi government for children and the elderly are inaccessible.
“I stand for long periods of time requesting a wheelchair for my mother, but officials refuse and tell me to go to the electronic wheelchair office. I’ve been to the office twice but I’m told that electronic wheelchairs are prohibited from being used during “tawaf” (circumambulation of the holy house),” said Saima Naeem.