Monday, April 26, 2010

Proposed Labor Town to Rid Bahraini Neighborhoods of Migrant Workers

Recent reporting from the TradeArabia News Source revisits the Bahraini Government's interest in constructing "labor towns" for thousands of migrant workers, with the goal of eliminating the hundreds of make-shift labor camps dotted throughout the country and segregating expats from Bahraini neighborhoods.

This new proposed labor town, which plans to accommodate a 10,000 worker capacity would be established in central Bahrain's East Rifaa District on a selected vacant piece of land behind several factories and plants that are already located in the area. According to the article, the project has already been approved by the Southern Municipal Council and received the backing of surrounding Municipalities and the Minister of Agriculture.

Rifaa's Municipal Councilor and pioneer of this initiative has stated that a new labor town is a necessary mechanism to cope with the expanding expat community currently living, and negatively affecting Bahraini residents in the area. Grouping migrant workers together is argued to improve the lives of Bahraini citizens who often complain of having to live in such close proximity to make-shift labor camps within their neighborhoods. The Municipal Councilor further noted that Bahraini citizens are being forced to move from the area due to deteriorating living conditions-like sewage overhaul-and increasing incidence of crime as a result of the increasing population of migrant workers.

New accommodations are argued to improve the lives of the migrant workers living in cramped, dilapidated housing complexes.

Rifaa is not alone in its quest to rid its national population of migrant workers. Requests for labor townships from all of Bahrain's governates have been made following years of complaints from local Municipal Councils.

The Minister of Agriculture recently banned a request to enact formal legislation that would prevent migrant workers from living in residential areas alongside Bahraini citizens; however, a proposed draft law has been submitted to Parliament by the Municipal Councils that would allow landlords the right to rent property only to expats and professionals, disallowing migrant laborers and unskilled bachelors from acquiring a residence and permitting only 6 months for such individuals currently living in designated areas to vacate before being evicted.

Rifaa's Municipal Councilor is still in the process of locating the landowners of the proposed area for the labor town to approach them about acquiring the plot.

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