22 Indian workers stranded in Saudi Arabia to return soon

Jeddah, Jan 15: Twenty-two Indian workers, stuck in this Saudi city for the past six months after their sponsor could not pay USD 24,000 in fines for labour law violation, might return home soon, a senior Indian diplomat said on Thursday.

Indians stranded in Saudi to return soon
A total of 62 workers from India were brought to Saudi Arabia by their sponsor last February, but could not provide them 'iqamas' or residence permits because it was in the red Nitaqat zone. The 'Nitaqat' law makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 foreign workers.

The sponsor - Dammam-based Sejong Saudi (Korean) Contracting Construction Company - was supposed to pay the Ministry of Labour 90,000 Saudi Riyals (USD 24,000) in fines for labour regulation violations but has not paid the amount.

"Unless the workers are regularised, they can't be issued an exit visa, something unique to this country," Indian Consul General BS Mubarak told PTI over telephone.

The sponsor sublet these workers to a construction company here, but the project stopped some time in July. The workers have been jobless ever since.

Recently, two of the workers went to Madina and were detained there following which the Indian Consulate had to intervene to get them released and bring them back to Jeddah, Mubarak said.

The workers lodged a complaint with the labour court after which seven of their compatriots returned to India and later another group of 30 workers was sent back.

"The sponsor has been giving us a lot of assurances for the past couple of months. They have said they will send ten workers back to India by next week and the remaining by the last week of January," Mubarak said.

The Indian Consulate in Jeddah is providing food every day to the 22 workers.

"We have spent 40,000 Saudi Riyals (USD 10,650) on the workers so far. We are providing all possible assistance to them. We are offering them food, medical assistance besides diesel so that they get electricity (through a generator)," he said.

Recently the electricity of their camp was disconnected. After several complaints, their handlers brought a generator which ran for only two hours a day, the Saudi Gazette said in a report.

"We are pressurising the company. We are also in touch with the Labour Ministry," Mubarak said.


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