With joy in their heart, a prospective golden tooth and the thought of being called Alhaji and Alhaja fully in their mind, several women and men applied to participate in this year's Hajj , a yearly pilgrimage for muslim faithfuls but unknown to a little less than a thousand of them, they will die in Mecca in tragic circumstances
First it was the case of a fallen crane which claimed the lives of over 100 praying pilgrims, then the news of a more tragic occurrence occurred on Thursday.
The Pilgrims who anticipated to throw stones at the devil unfortunately could not get to do that, there was a stampede! While rushing to perform this rite of stone throwing, people fell and like vehicles with faulty breaks, the multitudes were unstoppable. Over 700 pilgrims according to reports lost their lives with another 800 plus injured.
The immediate cause of this incident is unknown yet but as expected, there had been exchange of blame batons, while governments of countries who lost their natives in the incident had blamed the Saudi government of negligence, the Saudi government blamed the pilgrims for failing to adhere to instructions, whichever way, we should look forward to proffering solutions and avoiding further occurences.
As a means of crowd control, the HAJJ organisers should give each participating countries a limited number of participants annually, with this, there would be less crowd.
Adequate Organising officers , security and infrastructural barriers,most preferably a net cage should be placed in critical sites most expecially the site where the 'devil is being stoned'. This will go a long way in forestalling 'crowd-rush'.
The currently injured pilgrims should be well treated and the Saudi Arabia government should duly compensate those who lost their lives. May they all rest in peace.
Mecca should not be a passage to the world beyond, everyone who embark on this pilgrimage do so with the intention of successfully living to remember the fond memories of their time at Mecca.
May we not experience such tragedy again.
Towolawi Jide Writes from Lagos, Nigeria
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