Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shortcomings at Jeddah airport blasted

The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has criticized services provided to pilgrims and visitors at King Abdulaziz International Airport’s North Terminal.
A four-man delegation from the society’s Makkah province branch on Wednesday went on a five-hour tour of the terminal, which is used by foreign airlines, and noted at least 20 instances of bad service.
The delegation was assessing the performance of the passport police, Umrah companies and the health control center there.
The visitors added that conditions in the terminal were unsuitable.
NSHR supervisor for Makkah province Dr. Hussein Al-Sharif headed the delegation, which also included Talal Qisti, Maatouq Al-Abdullah and Hussam Malki.
The delegation said it would submit a comprehensive report on their findings to airport authorities.
Al-Sharif told Arab News that the services provided to pilgrims and visitors at the North Terminal were not up to scratch and did not match up to the standards expected in Saudi Arabia.
He said the delegation talked to a number of Chadian and Malaysian pilgrims who complained that they had been sitting inside buses from Makkah and Madinah for more than four hours at the airport, waiting for their passports to be given to them by their tour operators.
Al-Sharif said examples of bad service provided by the airport included taking too long to record passengers’ fingerprints, long delays in giving pilgrims their passports back and a general lack of coordination to avoid congestion in the lounges.
A lack of rest rooms for passport police officers, bad conditions inside the health control center as well as a lack of pharmacists there, insufficient water coolers or bathrooms, non-existence of good restaurants and a lack of seats, especially those for the old and the disabled, were the other shortcomings noted by the delegation.
“We were shocked by what we saw. We call on all concerned parties to make their efforts to act on our observations. We also suggest that the fingerprinting process be done at the Kingdom’s embassies abroad instead of at the airport,” Al-Sharif said.
The delegation also said the Ministry of Haj’s office at the airport was not easily accessible to pilgrims and visitors.
“The office is located in a difficult to reach place without any signs pointing to it,” Al-Sharif added.

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