Going places, for memory's sake

ABU DHABI - The four-month amnesty given to illegal exaptriates by the UAE government may prove to be a welcome proposition for many beneficiaries who plan to shore up their savings by picking up odd jobs during the grace period.

By N. Srinivasan

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Published: Sun 23 Feb 2003, 2:46 AM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 10:26 PM

But for a group hailing from far-flung rural villages and towns along the borders of the Southern Indian states of Kerala and Karnataka, the general pardon, which expires in April, is a blessing in disguise to fulfil some long-cherished dreams.

The group of 10 which meets regularly at a camp site told this reporter that the members will pool their modest savings to take off on an inter-emirate trip to savour the delights of what the country has on offer for tourists.

"We have seen and read the attractions of the land and its people only in picture postcards, not even in slides and films," said Marudu, who wished to be quoted only by his alias. Although most of them have lived and worked here for nearly five years, they have not had the good fortune to make trips to even neighbouring Dubai or Al Ain, venues which are drawing hordes of visitors from all parts of the world, with their growing profile as shoppers' and tourists' paradise, rspectively.

"It may not cost us much to travel to some places that we have shortlisted; at least we will have some fond memories to cherish and stories to recount when we are back home for good," said Moosa, another member of the group.

Their resigned submission finds further expression in their assessment of the situation and in the light of the experience of their set-to-expire stay here, which has been far from satisfactory, they may not be able to get suitable jobs for a fresh stint here.
According to the group, which is thankful to the authorities for granting amnesty, the exercise should not end with just flushing out illegal residents and overstayers.

The occasion should be used to find out the causes of their plight which, in a number of cases, can be traced to employers who resorted to unfair practices and maltreatment of workers.

"I have not been paid for five months," said a worker who found his job gone last month when the large departmental store where he was working on Najda Street closed down and the 'self-styled owner' of the business deserted the scene to return to his native town in Mangalore district.

"Unless there is a foolproof mechanism to ensure the proper functioning of recruitment agencies and compliance by employers to the contractual obligations and matching jobs to the skills of the workers, granting of amnesty will be a recurring feature," is the consensus opinion of the group.

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