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Sun 28 Oct 2007 12:21 AM

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Jamrat Bridge set to ease Haj congestion

Second phase of $1.1bn project ready to transport 200,000 pilgrims per hour from Mina stoning ritual.

Three new one-way roads from the Jamrat Bridge will help reduce congestion by transporting up to 200,000 pilgrims per hour during this year’s Haj pilgrimage.

The second phase of the $1.1bn project will be complete by November 25, before the beginning of Haj, according to Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of municipal and rural affairs. The minister said the new system would reduce pressure on the ground and first floors and ensure a smooth flow of pilgrims, Arab News reported.

The second level of the bridge will receive pilgrims coming from Makkah after performing tawaf al-ifada, the circumambulation of the Kaaba, Zainul Abideen said. It will have two entrances, the southern for pilgrims coming from Aziziya, and the northern for those coming from Adel, Shisha and the Pedestrian Road.

The bridge provides access for pilgrims to throw stones at three pillars - each known as a jamrah - in a ritual that symbolises the stoning of the devil. Work began in January 2006 to replace the old single-deck bridge with a multi-storey structure, and is scheduled for completion in October 2008.

The new structure was used for the first time during last year’s Haj, vastly improving public safety and enabling pilgrims to perform the stoning ritual with no reported accidents. A 9,000-strong security team was on hand to enable 1.25 million pilgrims perform the ritual in five hours.

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