Paying the price already? Labor raids to leave Saudi Arabia thirsty
A water crisis is looming in this port city as many drivers of water trucks have stopped working fearing arrest.
Drivers have told local media that they do not work for their original sponsors. They had tried to rectify their status during the amnesty period, but some were in dispute with their sponsors and could not get other sponsors to transfer their sponsorships.
“I own this truck but it is registered in my sponsor’s name and I pay him SR2,000 a month,” said Noor Ali, a driver. “The sponsor shut down his establishment and asked me to find another sponsor, but I have so far been unable to find one.”
Nasser Ali, a Pakistani driver, said he had been working in this field for more than 10 years, but never for his original sponsor.
His colleague, Muhammad Farouq, said that more than 60 percent of drivers at the water distribution centers do not work for their original sponsors. “They have also stopped working on the request of their previous sponsors pending resolution of the problem,” he said.
Haron, a Somali driver, said his sponsor asked him to find another sponsor, which he has been unable to do. “I have therefore had to quit this job for the moment,” he added.
Saleh and Hazem Al-Shahri, Saudi citizens, said they were surprised to see numerous trucks parked inside the company when they went to the Al-Faisaliyah water distribution center. They both demanded a quick solution to the problem before it gets worse.
Lt. Muhammad Al-Hussein, a spokesman for the Jeddah Passport Department, said security forces would visit all facilities without exception, which includes the National Water Company, to arrest violators.
A source at the Al-Faisaliyah water distribution center said there have been no water disruptions and that the number of drivers who could not rectify their status is limited and would not affect the work of water trucks.