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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Users have struggled to access Saudi Arabia’s COVID-19 mobile phone application after a surge of new users attempted to register and use it.
The Tawakkalna app was launched by Saudi authorities last year to help track coronavirus infections. It has since developed and recently updated to include vaccination information, including an individual’s status such as vaccinated or infected, and now functions as a COVID-19 “passport.”
The public have been asked to register for the app as it has been made a requirement before being allowed entry into public places such as malls, shops and restaurants, and the flurry of downloads resulted into technical issues on Tuesday afternoon.
Some people were able to register in the system from their homes but once they arrived at their destination and attempted to open their profiles, the program returned to the home page and they were unable to enter the buildings.
As a result, many found themselves crowded outside doorways of businesses such as grocery stores attempting to access the program through their phones.
A former Saudi diplomat told Arab News: “I had a business meeting at a five-star hotel lobby last night and had to wait almost an hour outside because I couldn’t open the app to show it to the security guard at the door.”
“I had downloaded it earlier and registered, but because of technical issues It wouldn’t open and as such, I was stuck till the security guard decided to allow me in when he saw that I simply couldn’t access it to show him my registration.”
A heavy increase in usage traffic for the program caused an error in the system, with a message telling users: “due to high loads on the service, please try again in a few minutes.”
A statement from Tawakkalna said: “The application of Tawakkalna is currently facing a temporary technical problem that has caused service interruptions, and the technical team is working continuously to find solutions to this problem.”
“As soon as I heard it is required to enter all facilities, malls, supermarkets and cafes I went ahead and installed the application,” Najd Alruwaili, a user in Riyadh, said. “Signing up using the ID and the date of birth went fine but after I entered the code confirmation it crashed and kept giving me an error stating the app is experiencing overload.”
Meanwhile, Maha Albalawi attempted to register for the first time on Wednesday but soon ran into difficulty.
“When I entered my national ID number the screen froze and then returned back to the home page,” she said.
Residents who downloaded the application and began the registration process, but soon started to receive the error message, have voiced their concerns on social media.
Some have complained that they had been trying to register on the app for more than three hours, while others said they have already registered in the past but could not log in because of the program error.
The application also sent messages recommending users to register through the website, but they still faced the same technical issues.
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