KATHMANDU, April 8: Nearly one and a half dozen illegal Nepali workers in Kuwait, who were abandoned by their employer after they demanded legal status, are still stranded there.
Of the 59 Nepali workers marooned in the Min Allah desert of Kuwait, 34 have returned to Nepal, and an additional 10 are expected to fly back to Kathmandu by Friday, according to Pushpa Bhattarai, second secretary at the Nepali embassy in Kuwait.
However, the remaining 15 workers do not know when they will be able to fly back. They are afraid of being caught by local police any time.
“As of now, no one has arranged our tickets,” said Nilkantha Bhattarai, one of the remaining workers, adding, “We get to eat a meal only once a day. We do not have money to buy our own food. We did not get last month´s salary. As we wait for our return tickets, we are fearful of the local police. They can arrest and deport us.”
A resident of Jante VDC-9 in Morang district, Bhattarai was persuaded by Ram Chandra Subedi, a Kuwait-based agent for Nepali workers, into entering the Arab country on a visit visa. Bhattarai was assured that he would get a work visa after landing in Kuwait. But, apart from not getting a work visa, he also did not get a driving license.
All 59 workers, including Bhattarai, ran the risk of driving heavy vehicles in Kuwait for several months without driving licenses or work visas. They later decided to not work any longer without first obtaining the required legal documents. However, the employer -- Regional Gate Company of Kuwait -- abandoned them.
Subedi, who had personally assured Nepali workers that he would help them get legal status in Kuwait, did not keep his promise. Three weeks ago, all the workers were left high and dry by the employer company, which was already blacklisted by the Ministry of Labor and Transport Management (MoLTM) here for forgery.
According to Madhuban Paudel, Nepal´s ambassador to Kuwait, Regional Gate Company was blacklisted after forged documents surfaced some years ago. “This is not an authorized company,” Paudel said. “I came to know that the company is still employing Nepali workers only after this case surfaced.”
Paudel said he will lodge an official complaint against Regional Gate Company at a local labor court if it fails to send back all the workers by Sunday. Asked if the labor court will help the Nepali workers whose visit visas have already expired, Paudel said, “I am preparing for that. Let´s see what happens.”
As their visas have expired, each of stranded Nepali worker has to pay 2 Kuwait dinar for every day they over-stay. “My visa expired on February 27,” Nilkantha Bhattarai said. “I have overstayed for over one month. I have to pay over 80 Kuwaiti dinar so far. I have no money to pay the fine and I´m getting desperate.”