Ban industrial zone as residential zone – Doha News

If the rest of the population cannot last a day in such deplorable conditions, why would you condemn migrant workers to such a fate?

When you think of Qatar, the richest country in the world, you would think that the same status would extend to migrant workers working hard to build and service the wealthy country. But that couldn’t be further from the truth, especially when it comes to housing and general well-being.

Most migrant workers are housed in the industrial zone, an area notorious for all the wrong reasons.

Living conditions

The area is located away from the capital – Doha, which is seen as an intentional accommodation arrangement to keep migrant workers out of sight and away from the more privileged (general) public.

One can only wonder if this implies that migrant workers are an eye-sore and a nuisance, as many of us think.

Mass housing is characterized by deplorable living conditions, with up to 12 people living per room. This is in direct contradiction to the standards of living and welfare stipulated in the Worker Accommodation Planning Regulationswhich sets out the welfare standards that workers are supposed to enjoy, such as the number of people per room, the mandatory ratio of sanitary facilities to workers, access to leisure facilities, among other requirements.

Such conditions make it difficult for workers to coexist in the cramped quarters, giving no sense of privacy and adequate space, making personal belongings strewn everywhere.

This also results in unfathomable sanitary standards in the toilets, with more workers than bathrooms and toilets.

The Ministry of Municipality and Environment’s Worker Housing Planning Regulation mandates these recommended ratios, which many businesses, including – but not limited to – security, construction, cleaning companies and food delivery, totally unaware.

Food quality

Besides the condition of accommodation, the quality of food provided to workers in the industrial zone is also often poor, leading many to believe that this is a feature and not a problem.

Unpalatable and non-nutritious, the food provided is not fit for human consumption, especially for the workers who work day and night to build and maintain Qatar. In addition to the fact that the predominantly Asian menu does not cater to the food preferences of various ethnicities, we have a problem.

And even though recent labor reforms stipulate that workers should receive a food allowance of QAR 300, most companies still choose to hire dodgy catering companies to provide food.

Catering companies that have intentionally cut back on food quality, which has a direct impact on the health of workers, with multiple cases of food poisoning (people got sick, had stomach aches, were hospitalized), and because of the unpalatable nature of what the company considers “food”, workers resort to boycotting and/or throwing away the food and buying better food from other places like restaurants.

This ultimately exceeds the food allowance of QAR 300 which is unacceptable as it is not enough to sustain an individual for an entire month.

Speaking about the quality of the food provided, one person said: “The food is appalling/not up to par as they don’t consider Africans (or other nationalities, especially minorities). They mainly cook Indian food /Asian, most of which is rice, which is unbalanced and cooked in a hurry and haphazardly so the company can make/save money.It does the quality no favors.And some companies offer particularly edible spicy and/or fatty foods.

Another individual described the food as “extremely awful”, especially for Africans.

“Alternatively, when we get the food allowance of QAR 300, we can at least choose and cook something better, but this option is still limited because the food is relatively expensive considering our small allowance, which is not not enough.”

The individual goes further to say that the quality is not great because “…we mainly choose between Arabic bread (quboos/kubus) and rice, with questionable chicken/mutton stew and weird vegetables .”

The situation is ironic, because by definition catering companies should be able to provide quality food, but the reality is that a good number of workers choose to spend more money on take-out food, even if this means that they only have one meal a day. – and that’s for those who can afford it. For those who cannot afford it, it is a completely different situation.

Access to basic services

Workers have difficulty accessing some basic amenities/services. For example, remittance facilities, where workers have to travel long distances, thus spending extra costs to send money to their families back home.

Shopping for essentials is also a feat. because supermarkets are far away, forcing workers to spend extra money to get there.

Another is the metro services. The nearest metro station is Al Aziziyah metro station, located about 20 QAR from the industrial zone. With such an example, it becomes apparent that migrant workers are not expected to access such a basic facility, reinforcing intentionality in this setup.

Now, as to why this is the norm, one can only speculate that the isolation from the general public is purely intentional. The competent authorities should be questioned about this.

What about our mental health?

Noise, air and environmental pollution do not promote the mental and physical health of workers.

The industrial zone is characterized by all kinds of factories, which contribute to the inhospitable nature of making workers live there.

Dust, toxic fumes, noisy and heavy vehicles, among other hazards, make the industrial area unsuitable for human habitation. Add to that the fatigue of the long commute to and from work, and the toll it has on mental and physical health, it’s not hard to see why this dark place shouldn’t be allowed to be used as lodging for Qatari workers.

When Covid-19 hit, the only area the government saw fit to close was the industrial zone. No one or anything was allowed in or out because apparently the government thought the workers were the carriers of the virus.

It was not only discriminatory, but also very harmful and an act that invokes shame on those who applied it.

In the current situation, more suitable accommodation should be provided to migrant workers, with appropriate social protection.

If the rest of the population cannot last a day in such deplorable conditions, why would you condemn migrant workers to such a fate?