Bahrain survey targets expat labourers
Manama, October 1, 2010
A massive study on the number of expatriate bachelor labourers living in bahrain's Muharraq area will be launched on Sunday.
The Muharraq Municipal Council, which is spearheading the drive, wants precise figures in a bid to help resolve the problems associated with them, a report in the Gulf Daily News, our sister newspaper said.
A team of government officials was yesterday formed to gather information and data.
It will be aided by groups of volunteers from Muharraq's eight constituencies to speed up information and data collection and enable the council to complete a report for the Cabinet within six months.
Councillors are already recruiting volunteers from a selection of candidates, who will be given identity cards to enable them to work smoothly.
A new ban on the rental of old derelict homes in Muharraq to bachelor expat labourers started last month.
Work has also begun on knocking down such buildings to prevent their owners from renting them out to businessmen and companies, said municipal officials.
The aim is to ensure they start housing their employees in the new BD40 million Bahrain Investment Wharf Labour Accommodation in Hidd.
The facility, which is built on 120,000 sq m, features 78 buildings and can accommodate up to 20,000 labourers.
Up to 4,000 labourers will move into 13 buildings by the end of the year, while 4,000 others are expected to live there by early next year once construction on 12 more buildings is completed.
The township will also include services to meet the daily needs of labourers such as a medical centre, markets, restaurants and recreational centre.
"We always say that the number of expatriate bachelor labourers in Muharraq is more than 20,000, but I can assure everyone that it is an estimation that is based on nothing," said council chairman Mohammed Hamada.
"The Labour Market Regulatory Authority has the number of expatriates under the sponsorship of Muharraq companies and individuals, but it doesn't know if they are families or bachelors.
"On the other hand, we have bachelors living here that are not under the sponsorship of anyone in Muharraq and they are not included in any calculation."
Hamada, who is running for re-election, said that without knowing the true numbers of expatriate bachelor labourers, councillors could not hope to solve the problems of crime, traffic congestion and dangerous living conditions.
Bahrain's five municipal councils have maintained for years that poor workers club together to rent properties in residential areas, many of which are dilapidated and not equipped to house people in large numbers.
They have long demanded a law that would lead to the eviction of all labour camps from residential areas.
It was sparked by complaints from Bahraini families across the country, who claim foreign workers living next to their homes have made their lives miserable.
They accused them of being drunk, noisy, harassing women and walking half-naked through the streets.
Residents also said trucks driven by expatriates caused traffic problems in narrow residential streets.
Hamada said that new bachelor town project should end all such problems. "We don't want to come a year from now and say that we have expatriate labourers still living in neighbourhoods and that's what we are mainly looking at with the identification of their numbers," he said.
Hamada said a room to accommodate eight workers would cost BD180 a month, but councillors are willing to help by renting some buildings and charging minimal rates.
"The council is looking for humane ways to treat labourers. They are not animals to be packed 20 a single room that might either collapse or catch fire easily," he said.
Officials earlier said companies not operating in industrial areas would also be able to get accommodation for their workers. -TradeArabia News Service