12:00 AM, May 29, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 29, 2008

Uncertainty descends on Bangladeshi workers in Bahrain

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Star Business Report

Around one lakh Bangladeshis working in Bahrain are faced with uncertainty as the Gulf country confirmed on Tuesday that it will not renew their work permits once those expire, Bahraini newspaper Gulf Daily News reported yesterday.
Meanwhile, Bahrain's industry officials said the decision to ban Bangladeshis from working in the country would hit hard the small construction companies that depend on cheap labour from Bangladesh.
Bahrain took the decision following demands of a group of lawmakers to expel Bangladeshi employees from the country in reaction to death of a Bahraini allegedly killed by a Bangladeshi on May 23.
Dr Abir Chaudhury, who works as a general physician at Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Centre, said the decision would lead his personal life and career to jeopardy.
"I had a long-term plan to work here, but all my dreams have been shattered," he said, adding that he has a car loan and other obligations there.
"I have been here for almost 13 years and renewed my visa only a couple of months ago,” said Nexus Financing Services' consultant Mohammed Ghulam Rabbani.
Charge d'Affaires of Bangladesh embassy in Bahrain Saiful Islam told the Gulf Daily News that they held an emergency meeting with more than 30 community leaders to discuss the issue on Tuesday night.
"We called all the Bangladeshi community leaders to the meeting to tell them to pass the message on to people to abide by the rules and regulations of Bahrain," he said.
Meanwhile, Samir Nass, chairman of the contractors' committee of Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the ban will certainly affect the ongoing construction projects, especially of the smaller contractors.
"There are many construction firms that rely on the cheap labour from Bangladesh. They will obviously feel the impact more," said Nass.
Terming the ban wrong, he said it came at a time when the country was facing manpower dearth.
Nass said the ban is not the answer. "The whole community cannot be targeted for the deed of one man."
Expatriates' welfare Secretary Abdul Matin Chowdhury told The Daily Star that decision of any country must be respected.
“We should keep cool and continue to discuss with our counterpart to bring an amicable solution.”

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