With no money and job, migrants cry for help

  • stranded in kuwait
- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu

Nov 28, 2017-Nearly 150 Nepali migrant workers employed at one of the leading construction companies in Kuwait have been stranded for the last six months with no money and no valid visa.

The company, Kharafi National, has not paid salary for months, they said, adding that their visa too has expired, due to which they have not been able to step out of the company premises. 

Suresh Kunwar, who hails from Dhurkot Rural Municipality of Gulmi, said, “I have been jobless for the last 113 days. I am confined to my room for months, as I might get arrested if I go out.” 

His fellow worker Kiran KC from Syangja has been without work for the last 166 days, according to Kunwar, who went to Kuwait to work for the company more than two years ago. He said he paid a hefty amount of money to a recruitment agency for the job. 

“My visa expired months ago, but the company has not taken any initiative to renew it. Many Nepalis have been living in similar conditions for months now,” said Kunwar. “We have not received our salary for nearly six months now.”

These Nepali workers are among hundreds of other migrants from different countries who are stranded in Kuwait. 

According to them, the company at one point of time had more than 2,000 Nepalis working for it. But, growing exploitation of workers for the last one year forced many to return home.

Ram Hriday Mahara from Dhanusha, who joined Kharafi National six years ago, said it used to be one of the best companies for workers. 

Mahara said he has not received salary for the last six months. 

The Nepali workers were promised 110 Kuwaiti Dinar (KD) during the interviews conducted in Nepal, which later came down to 90 KD when they signed the agreement. But once they paid the money to the recruiting agency, their actual salary plunged to just 70 KD. 

“It is like we are living in captivity… we under constant fear of getting arrested,” said Kunwar, adding that this, however, is not the first time when the company has dilly-dallied in renewing visa. 

“Earlier, when our visa expired, we were here for seven long months without a valid document. Then we were granted temporary visa; some worked under tourist visa for months. But now with no money and no valid document, we are helpless,” Kunwar added. 

Those who have managed some money have returned home after paying fine for overstaying. 

“Recently, 17 Nepali workers paid Rs 100,000 each in fine to the local authority and returned home,” said Kunwar. But not all can afford to pay such a hefty amount of money in fine and to buy tickets home, he added. 

Kharafi National on its website says “it has multi-national workforce of over 22,700”. 

The stranded Nepali workers have sought help from the Embassy of Nepal in Kuwait and SOS Manpower Private Limited. But they say they have lost hope as nothing has happened despite making frequent rounds of the embassy. 

The Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) said it would try to resolve the matter as soon as possible. 

“The ministry will closely follow the matter and talk to the concerned agencies including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to address the concerns of the Nepali workers in Kuwait,” said Bhuwan Prasad Acharya, spokesperson for the MoLE.

Stranded workers have a bigger dilemma. 

“The company owes me more than Rs 100,000, which I can’t let go. I came here to earn money so that I can take care of my family back home. But I don’t have a single penny now,” said Kunwar, adding that he is dreading about returning home empty-handed.

Published: 28-11-2017 07:17

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