In May 2012, ten labourers were found dead due to fire and smoke, in
In January 2013, two days ago, 13 labourers were burnt to death, in
Manama. And civil defense officials fear that more bodies might still
be under the rubble, as they continue working at the site.
So, what does it tell us, about safety in many workers’
accommodations? What does it tell us about the responsibilities of the
owners of these buildings? What does it tell us about the government’s
seriousness in avoiding these accidents?
The incident raises all these, and many other pertinent questions.
There must be answers from government, sponsors, and owners of
Allegedly, the fire was caused by a worker lighting a gas stove,
without realizing that gas had accidentally leaked and spread all
over. Gas cylinders burst, and a huge fire immediately engulfed the
entire building, trapping many of the victims, on whom the roof
collapsed later. A firefighter was also injured in that collapse.
Ten of the thirteen dead are now said to be Bangladeshi workers on
free visas, according to Bangladeshi Embassy.
So, my questions are these.
How was this accommodation allowed? It is a three storey building, of
27 rooms, with 135 tenants. And, to make matters worse, it was,
apparently, illegally extended to house more inmates, cramming the
already small rooms. Public Prosecution which inspected the building
found that there was only one entance and that there has been no
maintenance works over the past 35 years !
How can 26 gas cylinders burst together? Is it safe to put them
together? Who is responsible for ensuring that they are kept away from
danger? Who is responsible for ensuring that the gas tube from
cylinders to stove is not leaking? In this case, the tube was totally
rusted. Should not gas companies do periodic checks?
Who made the rental contracts? There seems to be gross violation of
rental rules, as so many are being accommodated in such a small place.
Don’t the local sponsors who have brought the workers to Bahrain know
where their workers are staying?
Who is a free visa worker? Isn’t that a myth? Workers are allowed into
Bahrain on proper visas procured by an identified sponsor/employer. It
is actually some of these sponsors – who collect as much as BD 1000
from some gullible aspirants – and bring them here. But they, then,
let the workers loose to go and earn money by washing cars, or by
working at construction sites. Most of their earnings anyway go to
feed the hungry wallets of so-called benevolent ‘sponsors’.
Who are their sponsors? The workers who died in the blaze must have
had sponsors. Who are they? And, where are they?
Where are the labour contracts? Does anyone bother checking if the
people who arrived here have come on proper labour contracts? If they
have, then where are the contracts?