There is nothing worse than to find oneself stranded abroad without one's passport. But if the person happens to be someone to whom a passport is more than a travel document, being without a passport becomes a matter of survival. And this applies particularly to our expatriate workers who depend on their passports to renew work permits and draw salaries, keep using their credit cards, get their emergency work done, and renew their visas, Resident Permit Cards, ATM cards and driving licenses. In this regard, our migrant workers in Oman find themselves in great distress. Reportedly, many of them have been without their documents the last several months, with little remedy in sight. Reportedly, Bangladeshis are the largest expatriate community in Oman, with about 5.47 lakh workers. The total number of Bangladeshis in Oman is over seven lakh as there are also family members and unregistered workers.
Admittedly, the pandemic has disrupted the normal course of our functioning. But it cannot be lost upon the administration that even during the pandemic, many of our workers are employed abroad and continue to send their hard-earned dollars to Bangladesh. Despite concessions by the receiving country, inordinate delays in renewing visas and work permits may result in the workers losing their jobs or getting blacklisted.
We fail to understand why the urgency of the matter has not been comprehended by the administration and the relevant ministries. The situation has been going on for the last six months, and it defies reason why the shortfall has not been made up during this time. Obviously, there is something wrong somewhere. We would like to believe that the snag will be removed by the Department of Immigration and Passports quickly. But what is equally important is to identify the causes of the backlog so that such a situation is not repeated in future.