They were moved to either government shelters or alternative locations, as part of preventive measures to combat the spread of Covid-19.
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Capital Governor Shaikh Hisham bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa highlighted a wide range of measures and campaigns undertaken to protect the public – including action against violators.
“When Covid-19 hit us there was a big concern about shared community housing in which a large number of expatriates not related to each other reside,” he said.“These houses were overcrowded and not registered with the Labour and Social Development Ministry, meaning they did not meet the health and safety standards.”He said the focus was on reducing overcrowding in densely-populated areas of Manama, where thousands of low-income workers reside.“We had a plan to tackle this problem since 2013 and managed to cover 1,050 accommodations in Manama.”
Teams visited the congested accommodations and tracked down the owners of these properties, urging them to fix the violations or face legal action.“We found 69,000 expats living in five main blocks of Manama, 301-305, and our aim was to reduce this number by 30 per cent – about 21,000 people.“Our team members counted the number of beds, and if that number was high then it was considered a violation.
“We took the hard decision to cut the electricity supply to violating properties and the landlords came running to us the next day pledging to fix the violation.
”Shaikh Hisham said the ‘trial and error’ approach worked in forcing the landlords to rectify the situation, pointing out that the power was not disconnected for more than three days and never on weekends.A total of 582 properties were inspected over 61 days, power supply disconnected to 532 buildings and restored in 499 cases.“The total number of residents in these buildings was 26,536; we managed to lower that number to 17,329.“Overall violations were rectified in 86pc of the cases, while 9,207 people staying in cramped labour camps were moved to alternative accommodation.”
Shaikh Hisham said violating landlords bore full responsibility for any ordeal faced by the residents.
“We have to work in the grey area of the law and have the right to enter these houses because the doors are not closed … it’s like a motel.
“If 100 people are housed in a property, imagine the electricity load caused by charging mobiles and electrical appliances.”Violations are punishable by imprisonment for a period not less than three months, and a fine not exceeding BD10,000, or either of these two penalties for anyone who refuses to implement any measure to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Hundreds of workers were relocated to a dedicated shelter at Adhari Park that can house 500 people.
Officials have maintained that the relocated migrant workers were free of Covid-19, allowed to move freely, and did not face deportation due to public
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