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We can't afford to move elsewhere say workers

WORKERS crammed into dangerous labour camps say they have no choice but to risk their lives because they cannot afford to move elsewhere.

Expatriates living near the building which was gutted in the deadly blaze claimed they were being forced to sleep in crumbling buildings often made of wooden structures with no safety measures.

Many of those the GDN spoke were earning less than BD100 a month and pay only BD10 for a bed in a room.

"Do you think we enjoy this squalor?" asked one Bangladeshi, who identified himself as Nurul.

"I am a daily wage worker and make around BD150 a month.

"I stay in a room I share with five other people and pay BD5. That is all I can afford."

Nurul said he rides a bicycle to Riffa every morning where he is working at a construction site.

"I could go by bus, but I cannot afford the 600 fils daily fare," he said.

The expatriate, who has lived in Bahrain for several years, said each time there was a fire, he gets scared but has no choice but to stay put.

"We have to live this life," he said.

Thampi Mathew, an Indian living in similar conditions, said he wanted to move out a long time ago but could not find anything safer for BD10 a month.

"I share a room with a tin roof without air conditioning with three other people and that is all I can afford," he said.

"I have my worksite in Manama and if I stay far away, I spend on transport as well."

Mr Mathew said he had been unable to sleep for the last two days as a result of the Mukharqa fire, which killed 13 people.

"I keep thinking about those who died and fear it could have been me among them. I worry a lot for a few days but life must go on."

A tour of the area found one building housing around 100 people with a ceiling supported by only iron rods and wooden beams.

The ceiling was also the floor of another bedroom, housing four people.

The GDN found similar accommodation being constructed but where locals said building activity had halted since Friday's fire.

"I live in the adjoining building and wanted to move in here because this is new," said Himmat Singh, an Indian who works at Mina Salman.

"Now I am not sure if this will be completed.

"A lot of people have been coming into the area in the last two days and asking a lot of questions, but this happens after every incident."



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