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Safety violations at most labour camps

MORE than half of hundreds of labour camps in Manama have health and safety violations, revealed a top official.

Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry assistant under-secretary for joint municipal services Mohammed Noor Al Shaikh said inspectors had identified nearly 600 buildings used as labour accommodations in the capital, including unregistered camps.

He said the team has registered 360 violations related to occupational health and safety, which were presented to the concerned authorities.

Mr Al Shaikh was speaking during a radio show at the Interior Ministry's internal station Al Amn (Security).

"We have identified more than 576 locations, including registered accommodations and other buildings in Manama, and found 360 violations," he said.

It comes just over a week after 13 Bangladeshis died and nine were injured when a fire broke out in a three-storey building in Manama. Initial investigations showed that tenants were crammed into 27 rooms, illegally built using wooden partitions to house more than 160 workers.

The workers died after the roof of the building caved in because of the fire and they were buried under the debris on January 11.

Mr Al Shaikh also explained that more than 40 per cent of labourers in Bahrain live in registered accommodations, while a staggering 60pc risk their lives in unsafe buildings.

He said it was essential to differentiate between legal accommodations, which have been provided by employers, and buildings used illegally as camps.

Subletting

"The ministry lists specifications and requirements for labour camps, which is different from accommodations provided by employers," said Mr Al Shaikh.

"Such camps represent 40pc, while the second type represents 60pc of workers, who are given housing allowance to search for residence.

"They end up choosing improper, unhealthy and unsafe place."

Civil Defence acting director-general Colonel Mohammad Shuwaitar, who was also a guest at the radio programme, said the main problem they faced was workers illegally subletting rooms.

"Sometimes the residence can hold up to 30 individuals but it is inhabited by 100 workers, which is a danger to their lives in case of a fire due to random electricity connections, accumulation of gas cylinders and inflammable items such as wood and kerosene," he added.

Following the blaze, Interior Minister Lieutenant-General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa announced they were working on a legislation that specified responsibilities and regulated labour residences.

Bangladesh Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain was quoted in Bangladeshi media as stating that the bodies of the 13 men will be flown to Dhaka tomorrow, via Emirates Airlines.

The men killed included Nazir Ahmed Sagir Ahmed, Jasem Late Abu Naser Miah, Supan Late Shohid Miah, Sayful Islam Shohid Miah, Mahbub Alam Haji Rahid Ahmed, Mohammed Jamal Abdulaziz, Shahadat Hossain Shah Alam, Teatu Ahmed Shah Alam, Anowar Hossain Abdul Bashar, Mohammed Osman Gani Abdul Rahim, Jaru Miah Late Chand Miah, Shaheen Khan Late Abdur Satter Khan and Mofizul Islam Joynal Abdin.



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