Saudi Arabia: As megaprojects push ahead, pressure mounts to improve living conditions for workers
Industry experts argue that better accommodation and facilities for migrant workers leads to higher levels of satisfaction and productivity. (File photo)
As the Saudi government rolls out one mega project after another in the kingdom, the industry experts believe it is high time the labourers working on these developments get a higher standard of living.
The kingdom is currently implementing numerous development projects, many of them on a mega scale, which will advance its economic and social development for the benefit of many generations to come, stated Anan Iskan, a leader in the development and facilities management for workers in the region.
The magnitude and variety of these projects, many of which require large workforces and some of which are in remote areas of the kingdom, raises the need for a higher standard of living than was previously considered acceptable for workers engaged in development projects, it added.
Anan Iskan pointed out that today's labour force expects companies in the kingdom to provide them with accommodation that offer a decent lifestyle complete with all facilities and amenities including primary health care services.
All this can be successfully achieved without compromising on profitability since worker satisfaction leads higher productivity, it added.
Anan Iskan CEO Faisal Alsayegh said: "We have discussed the need for better workers accommodation and lifestyle facilities with various business owners, but some of them are afraid of the impact of these villages in terms of water and electricity consumption, disposal of large quantities of waste materials and other factors that may adversely affect their business operations, especially in projects located in remote areas."
He pointed out that the slum conditions were no longer acceptable and the answer to the problem was 'workers villages' with all amenities.
"We are committed to respecting the human rights of workers and providing best value services for residents in the villages while having minimal effect on overall operational costs," he added.
An expert at resolving logistical issues, Anan Iskan has developed an optimal model for workers' accommodation that protects the environment and preserves natural resources by applying the principle of sustainability, said Alsayegh.
According to him, the speed of construction and quality management techniques will enable the company to focus on doubling the efficiency of workers villages, both in terms of resource consumption and environmental friendliness, through features including fire prevention safeguards that are higher than locally approved standards.
Besides this, the adoption of natural lighting and ventilation wherever possible; solar water heaters; recycling operations for waste materials; and mitigation of carbon emissions from the various processes and activities within each village, will also help in this effort.
"Another environment-friendly feature of its workers villages is the bio-shaft system for the disposal of bio-waste, in addition to reverse osmosis systems to ensure the quality and sustainability of water resources," stated Alsayegh.
The company also enriches its villages with landscaped gardens that provide an attractive and healthy environment for the residents, he added.
Alsayegh pointed out that the reluctance to develop better housing accommodation for labour in the Saudi market presents many challenges for investment in this sector, despite the promising economic and social benefits that business owners benefit from.
"The operating costs of workers villages are much less than many business owners seem to think and those who study the economic feasibility of such projects will find the results are in their favour since improved accommodation for workers contributes significantly to enhancing productivity and profitability, thus supporting the goals of their companies, factories and institutions," he noted.
"We firmly believe that employee satisfaction leads to job satisfaction, improves productivity and strengthens loyalty to their company, which in turn gives business owners peace of mind that their workers are properly cared for," he added.
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