Video: Labors Live in Grimy Accommodation in Bahrain

Published July 11th, 2018 - 09:07 GMT
The accommodation near Alba emerged as an illegal labor camp. (GDN)
The accommodation near Alba emerged as an illegal labor camp. (GDN)

Around 200 men say they are forced to live in squalor in their Bahrain labor accommodation and are appealing for urgent intervention.

Clogged toilets soiled with human excrement, floors coated in a layer of slimy dirt, leaking taps that flood passageways and broken drainage pipes were among some of the examples seen by the GDN.

There are blackened cooking stoves covered in grease and soot in the open kitchen, rubbish is strewn outside and tenants live in constant fear of stray dogs that routinely prowl inside the compound.

The men who live there work for a construction equipment supplier, but were afraid to be identified because they feared losing their jobs.

“We are scared to talk to anyone as we fear being sacked the next day,” one Indian worker told the GDN.

Ordeal

“We are trying our best to clean the place, but after eight to 10 hours of work in this heat we are too tired.

“Over the years the place has become so dirty that it is difficult to clean.

“Stray dogs that come in through open spaces under the cabins are a menace – they make the place dirty and at times become hostile.

“The kitchen is open and the dogs sometimes defecate inside it.

“The drainage tap leaks, the water stinks and the toilets are dirty.

“There is no cleaning equipment and we can’t afford to buy any from the small salary that we get.

“We have told our supervisors about the situation, but nothing has been done.”

The GDN learnt their accommodation was not registered as a legal labor camp, which means it is off the radar of government inspectors.

It is located off Highway 96, near Alba, and those living in the portable cabins there come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

“I always fear we will end up with diseases if we continue living in such unhygienic situation,” said one of the men, from Pakistan.

“But we don’t have a choice and we are forced to continue, as we have families to feed back home.

“Our supervisors and managers are all expats as well, so it is sad they are ignoring our pathetic plight.

“There is no store or restaurant anywhere nearby, so we have no choice but to cook in this kitchen – which cannot be cleaned, as it is very dirty.

“We have to survive so we cook in that kitchen.

“There are six to seven people in one room, common wash basins and seven to 10 people share a toilet.”

According to the law, labor accommodations must provide almost four square metres of space for each tenant and house no more than eight people in a single room.

The rules, which were enforced in 2015, also demand a safety certificate from the Civil Defence, first-aid facilities, kitchens, toilets and drinking water facilities.

A company representative confirmed to the GDN that the accommodation was not registered with authorities, but claimed the situation was being addressed.

“This is a temporary accommodation and we have a supervisor who takes care of the place,” said the Indian man, who co-owns the 15-year-old company.

“We are trying to clean the place while we are soon setting up our permanent staff accommodation, which is a major investment and a bank loan is awaited.

“We started with two people and grew over the years. We were not in a position to invest in staff accommodation, but we didn’t intend to ignore the complaints on purpose.

Rights

“This accommodation is close to our yard and was set up a few years ago.

“It is not a registered labor camp, but we have tried to match all legal requirements – as in bed space and room specifications.

“No room has more than six people and each six share one toilet.

“We are soon setting up CCTV and have also asked the men not to leave the gate open, which allows stray animals to enter.”

The GDN reported in March that the National Institution for Human Rights had called for new legislation with stronger penalties for companies that fail to provide safe accommodation for their expatriate workforce.

Labor and Social Development Ministry officials did not comment yesterday.

By Raji Unnikrishnan

Copyright 2019 Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group

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