Bangladeshi migrant workers stranded at home | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 08, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:08 AM, October 08, 2020


Bangladeshi migrant workers stranded at home

Govt should make alternative arrangements

A large number of migrant workers, particularly those employed in Saudi Arabia, are facing a very uncertain future since there aren't enough flights for all of them to get back to their workplace in time. We are passing through very unusual times and facing unusual situations. A good number of our expatriate workers had to return home due to the pandemic, most of them from Saudi Arabia. Now, there are not enough flights or carriers that would ensure all the Saudi-bound workers go back to join their work in time. The consequence of that is loss of work permit and loss of jobs.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that our expatriate workers almost always get the raw end of the deal. This time has been no exception. They were left without any ostensible means of income after return, and many have returned without much savings to help tide them over during this pandemic. Considering that these workers contribute the major chunk to our foreign exchange coffer, the possibility of having their job terminated if they cannot fly on time has grave implications for our economy too. Reportedly, nearly seventy thousand workers with newly issued visas stand to lose their jobs because there are no tickets available. And the two airlines that are there for the purpose are able to operate only a limited number of flights weekly. The other airlines that used to operate flights to the Kingdom from Bangladesh have not resumed operations since air service was halted due to the pandemic.

We believe that the administration ought to go on overdrive to ensure that the migrant workers can rejoin their work in due time. The Civil Aviation Authority should be more proactive and get more airlines to resume their Bangladesh operations quickly, instead of vice versa. They should prevail on airlines such as Kuwait Airways to carry transit passengers, a practice they have stopped since the pandemic. The authorities should press into service all the Biman aircraft to ferry out the stranded workers. Additional aircraft should also be taken on lease for the purpose, as is done during the period of Hajj. After all, it is not the problem of the workers alone and it is not just for humanitarian reasons that they are helped so they can retain their employment abroad. Their earnings drive our economy.

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