Sharjah cracks down on overcrowded workers' accommodations

Afkar Abdullah /Sharjah Filed on October 28, 2020 | Last updated on October 29, 2020 at 06.39 am
(Wam photo used for illustrative purpose)

Standard labour accommodations should have no more than 500 workers.

Several workers’ accommodations in Sharjah have been found to be overcrowded, with as many as 800 people living in a place built for 500, authorities said on Wednesday. Some rooms even exceeded the capacity by up to 60 per cent.

These ‘serious violations’ of regulations on workers’ accommodations came to light as Sharjah’s Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management Team (SECDMT) stepped up safety inspections to fight the spread of Covid-19.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Brig Ahmed Saeed Al Naoor, chairman of the emergency and crises management team, reiterated that standard labour accommodations should have no more than 500 workers, a capacity limit that has always been in place even before Covid-19 struck. Only four people should be staying in one room.

Now that physical distancing has become a key precaution to prevent virus transmission, the team has been making sure that all accommodations in the emirate are strictly observing the limit, as well as other safety measures, Brig Al Naoor said.

As inspectors went around the industrial areas of the emirate, they also found accommodations with no power supply.

It turned out that some companies, which had to suspend their activities because of the pandemic impact, had cut the electricity connection for their workers. This is another major violation of regulations, the authorities said.

Businesses’ compliance

Despite the offences observed at accommodations, in general, majority of businesses in the emirate were found compliant with anti-Covid-19 protocols.

Brig Al Naoor said 90 per cent of commercial and industrial establishments follow the safety rules, since they were issued in the wake of the pandemic. Masks are worn at all times, physical distancing is maintained, and regular sterilisation carried out.

Raising awareness

Awareness drives are being carried out in different languages across Sharjah, aimed at reach tens of thousands of workers. The official said among the biggest challenges that the team had faced was handling the large number of industrial zones in the emirate.

The SECDMT has been working with the media section of different government departments to deliver awareness messages and guidelines to all. Thousands of informative flyers in Arabic, English, Urdu have so far been delivered via drones.

More than 30 patrols on 24/7 shifts have also been deployed to industrial areas to monitor compliance with precautionary measures.

Afkar Abdullah

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