KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — Malaysian pilgrims for this year’s Haj season need not wait long for their passports to be checked in Saudi Arabia as a pre-departure clearance system will be fully implemented.
Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) chief executive officer, Datuk Seri Zukri Samat said the pre-departure clearance system was made a pilot project last year.
He said through this system, Malaysian Haj pilgrims no longer needed to go through Immigration (passport) and Customs clearance upon arrival in Saudi Arabia as this would be done at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) before their departure to the Holy Land.
“We try to improve the quality of TH services this year by doing the pre-departure clearance for the pilgrims at KLIA.
“Upon arrival in Jeddah or Madinah, they don’t have to wait long at the airport before being taken to their respective hotels,” he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama, here, today.
Last year, about 30,000 Malaysian pilgrims benefited from the pilot project. Before this, they had to queue up for hours for their passports to be checked.
Zukri said Malaysia was the first country in the world to have collaborated with Saudi Arabia to implement this system for the benefit of its Haj pilgrims, following the success of the pilot project last year.
He said the cost for the system had been included in the overall cost for this year at RM22,900 per pilgrim with TH giving a subsidy of RM12,920, so a first-time pilgrim only had to pay RM9,980.
Zukri noted that among the service improvements being made for the comfort of pilgrims was providing an air-conditioner for every tent because of the hot weather expected during this year’s Haj season.
He said TH had issued offer letters to prospective pilgrims since February 18, while it had so far, received 103,000 appeals to perform the Haj this year and all the appeals would be processed starting next month. — Bernama