NEW rules governing labour accommodations are on the way, according to Labour Minister Jameel Humaidan.Under a newly-proposed article to be added to the 2012 Private Sector Employment Law, employers who provide accommodation for their staff would be obliged to declare their whereabouts and allow inspections to ensure standards are followed.Under the amendments, which are being reviewed by the Ministerial Committee for Legal Affairs, accommodation standards would be drawn up in co-ordination with the Bahrain Chamber and the two trade unions.

The minister said that specific locations would soon be determined for labour camps outside urban areas through a ministerial decision currently under review in co-ordination with other relevant authorities.“Currently, space per worker should be no less than four metres within one room,” he added. “Cramming workers in one place is prohibited, and they should have proper ventilation, lighting and enough cupboards for clothes.“Also, the accommodation should have adequate fire-fighting equipment and extinguishers, a first-aid box, besides acceptable toilets, kitchens, water sources and a proper sewage system, amongst others. Employers will have to carry out regular maintenance and fix damages that may jeopardise workers’ lives.”Mr Humaidan, who is also the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) board chairman, was responding to a question by Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security Committee vice-chairwoman Dr Mariam Al Dhaen on labour accommodations during the weekly session of Parliament yesterday.

Dr Al Dhaen said several residential areas, especially Isa Town, were saturated with large numbers of expat labourers.“Measures have to be introduced fast as residents are fed up with the problems and issues they are facing concerning some irresponsible labourers.”In response to a question by Parliament’s second deputy speaker Ahmed Qarata on runaway expat workers, the minister said that out of 562,593 work permits, 1,337 have left work in violation from December 2022 to February 2024.Meanwhile, Municipalities Affairs and Agriculture Minister Wael Al Mubarak said tenders will finally be floated for a new-look Jidhafs Central Market after a decade of delays.He said that work to redesign the former Jidhafs Municipality building and surrounding public and private properties to merge and create a new site has already been completed.

The project will include an urban facade and direct outlets with a total area estimated at 4,880sqm.It will have five sections, with the fish area featuring 15 stalls for selling and five for cleaning, while the meat and poultry section will have 14 butcheries and two poultry stalls.The fruit and vegetables section will feature 17 stalls each for both fruit and vegetable sellers, and the local products department will have 15 stalls.

The services section will include a traditional coffee shop along with security and management offices.Mr Al Mubarak, who was responding to a question by Parliament’s Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee vice-chairman and area MP Mahmood Fardan on new municipal projects in the Capital Governorate constituency six, added that the whole market area re-planning process involved intensive co-ordination with relevant authorities following an original proposal by the Capital Trustees Board.

The central market has existed for around three decades, but traders claim it has become a magnet for illegal traders, prompting complaints of traffic congestion and a number of raids.Mr Fardan thanked the minister for appearing in Parliament despite non-sleep as he attended areas affected by heavy rain showers.Meanwhile, MPs unanimously approved an urgent proposal to provide car parks for Radhi Haddad Mosque in Janabiya presented by five MPs led by Muneer Suroor.

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