The situation of some expatriate workers employed in construction sector in the Kingdom has worsened as their iqamas (residence permits) and subsequently their medical insurance cover have expired. In some cases, financial woes of some of the expatriates are continuing to hound them even after their death.
The mortal remains of two Indian workers belonging to a now defunct construction company have been lying in a mortuary in Riyadh for over months as their employers are not ready to bear the cost of repatriation and make the exit process by canceling their visas.
Repatriation of a dead body by making exit papers and bearing the cost, is the responsibility of the employer. The deceased workers were in the Kingdom over 20 years but had no job for some time until their death as their employer abandoned them along with scores of other workers. They were waiting to receive their end of service benefits and planning to leave for good.
Jaswinder Singh (56), native of Kapurthala district of Punjab in India, died on February 21 in Riyadh and Ponnam Satyanarayana (48), a native of Jagtial district of Telangana, died on March 11. Since then mortal remains of these two workers are lying in a mortuary in Riyadh waiting to be repatriated back home.
The cancellation of visas and transportation cost are prime reasons behind the delay in repatriation of dead bodies, said sources.
Both deceased workers belonged to same construction company. It is not coming forward to bear the embalming and cargo charges. The chemical embalming of coffin box is mandatory under IATA rules.
“Without salary for over a year and half, penny less, we are passing through extremely difficult times and the tragic death of our colleagues have saddened us,” some colleagues of the deceased workers told Saudi Gazette.
“We have spent long years in the company of each other; in bad and good times. We were more than colleagues, like brothers. Contributing some amount for repatriation is not a matter for us but we have no money,” they said.
By Irfan Mohammed
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