Transporting humans

A few months ago, the Ministry of Labour meekly suggested that workers should be transported in covered vehicles, they meant buses I assume, which should be adequately air conditioned. So canny businessmen slapped on some plywood boards around the back of 6-wheel trucks and shoved all their labourers in there.

That should have been enough – as far as those businessmen are concerned – to provide a safe, covered and as it was open to the elements, would also provide adequate air conditioning if the truck driver put peddle to the metal – which seems to be their specialty anyway – slowing down only enough to discharge their load of humans, but never stopping in the interim. If a worker falls as he disembarks and cracks his skull, well so what, it’s a lowly Indian anyway.

Two days ago, something pipped the Ministry of Labour again to have their undersecretary once again meddling with businessmen’s profits:

New rules governing workers’ transportation have been drawn up by the Labour Ministry and the Interior Ministry’s General Directorate of Traffic.

Trucks should be used only to transport materials and not human beings, said Labour Ministry labour relations director Shaikh Ali bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa.

“Workers should be transported on buses and not on trucks or pick-ups,” he told the GDN.

“We are concerned about the safety of workers. They should be transported on vehicles which have proper seats equipped with seat-belts.”

Fair enough. But the “business community” (I’m not one of that club, I refuse to be one of them) went ape.

However, the business community in Bahrain says it is not practical to transport all workers by buses to their workplaces and back.

“It will cause huge financial burden for businessmen,” said Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) board member and contractors’ committee chairman Samir Nass.

“The number of labourers in Bahrain is about 200,000.

“The cost of providing air-conditioned transport for all of them is estimated at BD50 million to BD100m.”

Mr Nass said transporting construction workers on air-conditioned buses would also adversely affect their health.

“After travelling in an air-conditioned environment for half an hour or so, when they step out into hot and humid weather conditions, they are likely to catch cold,” he said.

“It will affect their productivity.”

1. 2. 3. 4. 57678910

Mr. Nass had a “serious lapse of reason” (just in case he takes personal offence at using a certain “b” word and decides to take me to court too!) actually several lapses which you can pick yourself from the linked text above.

migrant workers transport in Bahrain

I was discussing this with my wife coming over the Sitra causeway this afternoon and seeing several of these contraptions which Mr. Nass and his colleagues ascertain are more than enough to transport workers in, they are looking after their health after all! Frances suggested why don’t they try this mode of transport for themselves – meaning the businessmen – and see how they like it?

That’s a good suggestion! We should hire one of those very safe, naturally aerated and conditioned, sun-protected worker transport units and get all those businessmen to be transported in to/from their places of work for a few days. We too would like to take care of our captains of industry (no, they are not captains of indentured workers, how dare you!) and see how they fair, especially that the smelly season is upon us?

Any takers for this campaign? I think it would be very educational for our capitans and this will also give them the opportunity to show their leadership by practicing what they preach!

Let’s find out when Mr. Nass’ committee actually meets at the Chamber of Commerce & Industry, bring a truck to the door and shove the whole committee members in the back of these trucks for a field trip of discovery!


  1. Anonymous

    once in a while you will see australian sheep being transported in container trucks; and even those are safer than the open top 6-wheels the indians are forced to ride in. so in bahrain it turns out that sheep are more valuable than indians. 🙁

  2. Lamontami

    Remember that the “cost” argument was also used by the people who opposed the abolishment of slavery many many years ago.

    Mr. Nass is playing with the 200,000 number, as if every worker on the Island has to be transported at the same time. It is the contractor’s responsibility to provide proper transportation vehicles for their workers, and the more workers they have, the bigger projects – and hence profits – they undertake. So why couldn’t they afford hiring or buying the busses?

    It is also outrageous how he puts his “concern” for the workers safety!

  3. Barry

    I love the part where he says if they step out of an airconditioned bus into the heat they’ll catch cold. I guess all of those car trips to the Central Valley here in my nice, air conditioned car meant I should have caught a cold! How silly of me to risk my health!

    It’s fabulous that he’s focused on them catching colds, nevermind that he’d rather see them remain in an open truck where if there is an accident one or all of them could go flying only to smash into the pavement or be crushed under the wheels of another vehicle, or if the truck rolls, get crushed under that.

    I remember as a kid, it was legal to ride in the back of a truck like that, but then people realized “Hey, this might not be a very good idea”, and made it illegal.

    Mr. Nass, you are indeed the epitomy of concern and compassion for blue collar workers all over Bahrain. I admire your willingness to care about productivity rather than their lives!

  4. Sara

    I just don’t get it…is this government so weak that it can’t enforce basic road safety laws nor a minimum wage for Bahraini’s working in the private sect?

    It simply allows the “business community” to dictate these matters according to their own welfare!

    If these companies can’t afford (which we all know is a load of crap because profit margins here in the gulf are much higher than in Western countries) proper transportation for their workers, they shouldn’t be in business!

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  7. vagabondblogger

    Let’s all go for a hayride! Actually, I’m all for it, as long those “captains of industry” (neo-slave traders) don’t stare at me, if I’m driving behind them. Is there any possibility of having them perform the same duties as their employees? How about the restrictions, pay, deductions and all that too? I’m not familiar with all the rules in Bahrain, but as for the UAE, which is currently coming under fire (& my guess is the laws are similar) the workers are treated like cattle being led to slaughter. It’s inhumane and the fact that they can’t provide proper transportation for them, is an indication of just how lowly they consider their workers. And, again, if it’s the same as the UAE, all of these “captains” have sponsors who are locals (Bahrainis) and no one wants a cut in the profit now, do they? It’s criminal.

  8. Redbelt

    Sory Mahmood. I stopped reading your post when I reached this

    Mr Nass said transporting construction workers on air-conditioned buses would also adversely affect their health.

    What the fuck is that? I’m sorry, if anything is a “BRAINFART” it’s this.
    Am I stupid? Was I born three days ago? Do I have an IQ that equals my waistline?

    Can this man say this in a straight face? TO PRESS??

  9. milter

    “After travelling in an air-conditioned environment for half an hour or so, when they step out into hot and humid weather conditions, they are likely to catch cold,” he said.

    This whole story just goes to show the attitude of some people. It just confirms my perception that the attitude I saw in Bahrain 20 years ago hasn’t changed much. There’s still a huge difference between being considered a human being of degree 1, 2, 3 or 4.

    The only difference between then and now is, that some people dare discuss it openly.

  10. milter

    …. and some further reflection on this subject:

    What if some (or all) of those workers were replaced by Bahrainis? Could that have a positive impact on the unemployment situation in Bahrain? Or are the employers just looking at the economic advantages of hiring Indian and Pakistani workers?

    How about domestic servants? Wouldn’t a Bahraini house maid be just as good as one from the Philippines or Sri Lanka?

    Or, maybe that wouldn’t be in line with the cultural norms?

  11. bahraini4eva

    Shocking, I never thought that such words would come out from such a well-known and respected businessman. And to think that he is a board member of the BCCI and the EDB makes one ask could such people really be our representatives. We have the gov’t on one hand, the parliament on the other, and now this! Watta disgrace!

  12. Laurie

    Here, police pull over drivers for allowing dogs in open bed trucks, for safety reasons. How can anyone rationalize treating humans that way? Wouldn’t a person flying out of a truck in an accident have the same consequences for other drivers as someone jumping from a bridge into traffic?

    I like your wife’s idea. The driver can try to hit all the bumps and potholes in the road, just because.

  13. LiB Team

    I have seen some horses being transported in air conditioned vehicles, now I wonder who these horses belong to! :devil:

    Yes, let’s round up all those blood-sucking law-stalling “leaders” and give them a taste of their own medicine.

  14. Redbelt

    Heads up: it’s not only foriegn workers being transported that way, last week I saw Bahraini security gaurds in the same situation.
    The claim of having 200000 workers in Bahrain is absured and not backed up.
    The claim of it costing 50 million dinars is unfounded. And the error margin! My god! from 50 – 100 MILLION dinars? Are you serious? How can you be wrong (even on estimation) by 50 Million?
    Still, if they were forced to endure extra costs (in thier opinion- I see it as mandatory) prices for construction will simply rise and we will eventually pay for it. How can we force businesses to be humane and make them stabilize prices? do we have such power?

  15. F

    We need air conditioned buses and better living facilities for our workers and laborers.

    Productivity will get better!

    Their moral would be more positive!

    Companies that look after its workers’ needs should be promoted!

    They, the workers, would be able to contribute more!

    At the end, it is the RIGHT thing to do!

  16. ASKAD

    If the A/C causes health problems, Min Of health should ban using it 🙂 but maybe Mr.Nass is more concerned about the health of the workers suddenly and not all citizens it seems.

    Maybe if we build a mobile oven and transport the workers we will get more productivity. More heat= More Productive workers.

    Lets just throw them in a volcano. :whistle: and we will see how they work

  17. Johnster

    The Nass organisation has a horrific attitude to its workers.

    If you’re from the West, don’t get comfortable thinking Nass treats only the vulnerable and exploited workers from the subcontinent this way (to whom we have a huge debt since they literally built so much of this country). Two western friends of mine were treated appaling by Nass as well

  18. Gary Brown

    I’d like to second Frances’ suggestion. We really can’t appreciate another person’s situation till we’ve walked a mile, or at least a kilometre, in their shoes, or sandals or flipflops………

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