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Help pours in for Ajman workers

Dhanusha Gokulan and Amira Agarib/Ajman
Filed on August 23, 2015 | Last updated on August 23, 2015 at 09.20 am
Help pours in for Ajman workers
Volunteers distribute meals at the labour accommodation in Ajman industrial area.

(Photo by M. Sajjad)

Residents step in to aid 220 workers deprived of basic amenities for last six months.

Workers, who were left in lurch without food and water at a workers' accomodation in Ajman, now have food supplies that will last for over three weeks, thanks to residents of Dubai and Sharjah.

The men have been living without food, water, electricity, and other essential supplies for the last six months.

The plight of the 220 workers at the Essa Engineering and Marine Services LLC came to light after Khaleej Times published a story about them on August 19.

The workers were very glad that people were willing to help them during their tough times.

Subbaiah Shankar, one of the workers, said: "It was very kind of people who helped us overcome our difficulties."

Moved by their living conditions, several generous benefactors from Dubai and Sharjah came forward to help the workers with food, and other essential supplies.

Atiqul Aslam, a Bangladeshi worker, said: "Until a week ago we were left in dark without water and electricity. Now we have electricity, we feel slightly better. We are overwhelmed by the help that has come from the kind people of Dubai."

The contributors provided essential items like rice, flour, lentils, cooking oil, salt, and other food items to the workers.

Apart from this, businessmen Inder Bhagnani, Dilip Tejwani, Jayesh Makwana, and Falak Zahoor, and his team of volunteers called 'Feed a Labourer' came forward to help the unpaid workers with food on Friday. The association provided the 220 workers with a bowl of chicken biryani, laban, and a packet of biscuits.

Bhagnani said: "The 'feed a labourer' concept has been operating for the past 63 weeks. We look into the basic welfare of labourers, especially during working hours at the construction site."

He added: "We distribute food and liquid items every Saturday to 1,200 labourers. With the donations we receive from random people and friends in our network we distributed food to the workers."

The organisation donated 250 of these meal packs to the workers at the camp in Ajman.

"We have collected enough money and supplies to provide them food for a little over a month. But it is heartening to see so many people give in supplies as well," said Inder.

The plight of the workers came to the attention of the media after a worker died in the camp on August 9.

L.C, an Indian worker is said to have died due to a hemorrhage in his brain caused to heat exhaustion. His body is still due to be repatriated to his hometown in Rajasthan, India.

Atiqul Alam, another worker, said: "A decision has still not been made on the matter of repatriation of his body. His body is currently in a morgue near Khalifa Hospital."

Public Relations Officer of the company Obaid Mohammed said that all legal procedures including the cancellation of his visa, cancellation of documents in the Ministry of Labour has been completed.

"The matter has also been notified to the Indian Consulate as well. However, the company, Essa Engineering and Marine Services LLC is bankrupt and they have not been able to procure the funds to repatriate L.C's body. It will cost approximately Dh11,000 and there needs to be a person to accompany the body to India," said Mohammed.

Since L.C. died in the company premises, it becomes their responsibility to send his body back to India. However, so far nothing has been done. Mohammed also said that many people have approached the company claiming to be his brother and relative.

"Several people have approached the company claiming to be the deceased's brother or relative. They are demanding we hand over L.C's dues from the company to them and as far as we are concerned, these men could be fraudsters. But to assure authentication, we need a letter of proof or a power of attorney that proves he is in fact L.C's relative," Mohammed told Khaleej Times.

Due to these complications and lack of funds, L.C's corpse is still lying in a morgue.

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com





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