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Electrical faults due to overloading were the alleged cause of the fire. On the day of the fire, all the employees were on leave,…
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Expose Qatar’s Doha Newspaper reported the troubling news of fire burning down a big part of Sailiya Labour camp and displacing over 400 foreign workers. Electrical faults due to overloading were the alleged cause of the fire. On the day of the fire, all the employees were on leave, therefore, the circuit was overloaded and exploded causing a fire that displaced over 400 foreign workers mainly from Sri Lanka and Nepal. Two days prior to the fire, there was an electrical short circuit in one of the boxes and an electrician sent by the camp supervisor came to inspect it. However, the electrician did nothing and said he would come to fix it later. Many residents believe that short circuit catalysed the occurrence of the fire. After the fire, the casualties were moved to another labour camp In AlShahaniya. Also, the employees were promised 200 riyals above their April salaries as compensation for the damage. Many volunteers have been appealing for food and clothe donations for the displaced men.
Firstly, the article highlighted the troubling facts about the living conditions of the employees in the labour camps. Kovessy (2015) indicates that over eight men live in one room and there are no fire safety measures in the labour camps such as fire extinguishers and emergency exits despite the overcrowding of the rooms. Questions have been raised about Qatar’s commitment to safeguarding the welfare of their labour force despite the enormous wealth of the country. The evident negligence of the camp supervisors should have been questioned in courts since it was the major cause of the fire. The majority of the Sri Lankan employees are opting to go home despite the Sri Lankan embassy encouraging them to go back to work. They claim that they still don’t trust the safety standards of the labour camp.
It is not understandable why the Sri Lankan government is not doing enough to cater for the rights of their nationals. A spokesman for the Sri Lankan embassy stated that no one was killed in the disaster; however, unconfirmed reports indicated that two Bangladesh nationals were killed in the fire. The statement exposed how the Sri Lankan Government is trying to cover up Qatar despite the fact that their nationals are suffering. Despite the fact that, the spokesperson was indicating the fire was evidence for the substandard housing conditions for the labourers, they agreed to settle for only 200 Riyal per employee. The displaced employees only escaped with the clothes on their bodies and 200 riyals could not possibly compensate for all the assets lost. If the government had sued Qatar for the negligence, they would have gotten much more compensation for the losses incurred. The embassy claimed to have inspected the new labour camp but did not champion for better living conditions of the employees and overall decongesting of the rooms.
Finally, the employers, mainly Group 7 should have been held liable for the provision of basic amenities such as food and clothing for the displaced employees. The reliance on volunteers and donors for charity is very concerning and unfair to the casualties. Also, expecting the employees to resume work immediately after the ordeal is unrealistic
Reference
Kovessy, P. 2015. Donation sought after hundreds displaced in Qatar labour camp fire. Retrieved from http://dohanews.co/donations-sought-after-hundreds-displaced-in-qatar-labor-camp-fire/ Read More
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