Nepal Government fears corruption in charter flights organised to repatriate stranded migrant workers from Gulf countries
By Jyoti Dhakal, KATHMANDU:- Less than a month after the COVID-19 testing kits and health equipment imported from China were found to be of poor quality and corruption in government involvement became public, there have been allegations of financial irregularities in the chartered flight to repatriate troubled workers in Nepal’s labor destination countries.
Nepal’s Envoy to Malaysia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have raised serious concern about the government’s chartered flight from Friday.
The government of Nepal has been accused of high-level financial irregularities in the chartered flight that started on Friday while repatriating troubled workers in Malaysia and Gulf countries, Nepal’s labor destination.
The Envoys of those countries have expressed concern that most of the workers have to be sent by the employer company and some of them have already got the tickets.
Nepal’s Envoy to Saudi Arabia, Mahendra Prasad Singh Rajput in a virtual discussion held by Labor Employment and Journalists Group on Friday said, “It is complicated to pay for tickets. The issue of paying for tickets is complicated. The return of any worker to the labor contract when he comes to Saudi Arabia means that the employer will make the arrangement. Some employers have already cut tickets a few months before the visa expires.”
With the repatriation arrangements being made by the employers themselves, it is suspected that the government has hastened to repatriate the troubled workers in expensive chartered planes and has also collected large sums of money from the employers.
Uday Raj Pandey, Nepal’s Envoy to Malaysia, said, “Four airlines were operating regular flights to Malaysia. Now they are allowed to operate regular commercial flights again. There is competition. Prices are fixed.
In that case, there would not be many complications.”
Nepal’s Envoy to Qatar Dr. Naradnath Bharadwaj said, ‘The government has told us to take them on a chartered flight. The company has provided the facility to those who are in a position to buy tickets here. Now it is very complicated to get Uniru’s ticket back and get a new ticket. This chartered flight is expensive, so we have employers who send workers at high prices. They are waiting for regular flights. The company said it could not afford the expensive chartered flight.”
The Action Plan 2077 prepared by the Government of Nepal to facilitate the repatriation of Nepali citizens states that those who come to Tribhuvan International Airport after being rescued from abroad should show a report of less than a week of PCR test. However, Nepal’s Envoy to Qatar Bharadwaj said it was not possible to do so.
Envoy Bhardwaj said, “The Qatari government has stated that it will not be able to provide RDT and PCR testing facilities to Nepal if we want to.” It seems that we have to take the workers home only after doing thermal test. Testing here is not cheap and easy. ‘ So now it may be necessary to send a worker after conducting a thermal test. We are still demanding the same. However, the government is still talking about chartered flights.”
According to Envoy Pandey, 6,343 people contacted the embassy in Malaysia and explained the reasons for returning home. Envoy Pandey said, “We have listed them on a priority basis. There are 201 patients and pregnant women, 3 thousand 175 people whose contracts have expired, 1 thousand 26 people who have lost their jobs, 922 people who want to resign and go home and 105 people who want to go home on long leave.”
According to Naradnath Bharadwaj, Nepal’s Envoy to Qatar, a large number of Nepalis have expressed their desire to return home after the Nepali government said it would rescue Nepalis in distress. Envoy Bharadwaj said, “7,000 Nepalis who have filled the form are about to return to Nepal. This is the number of people in a difficult situation. About 7,000 Nepalese are returning home, including pregnant women, women who have changed jobs, illegal workers, people who are ready to go home after their visas expire, workers who have had accidents at work, patients who are paralyzed and semi-paralyzed, and students who have come to study hotel management.”
According to Dr. Mahendra Prasad Singh Rajput, Nepali Envoy to Saudi Arabia, the geography of Saudi Arabia is vast. It covers an area of 2.1 million square kilometers. Envoy Rajput said, “Workers are scattered. There is no village or city in Saudi Arabia where there is not a single Nepali. Everyone has the same fear, Corona. The hope is the same, that I will be able to return home. Most of the 325,000 Nepali workers are now unskilled. Semi-skilled and skilled are in very small numbers. It is not easy to bring semi-skilled and unskilled workers in the process of repatriation. It is challenging to determine the priorities by processing the data obtained from them.”
According to the standards of the government of Nepal, before the flight, the health of the worker should be tested to prove ‘fit to fly’, but for that, the government has failed to give clear instructions on where, how, and at whose expense.
Envoy Rajput said that the government of Nepal has not yet given any instructions to the diplomatic missions of the countries concerned regarding health check-ups, tickets, flights and their rates.
Earlier, The Chinese government had apologized for importing substandard testing kits and medical equipment in Nepal and European Countries.
At this time, serious misgivings have arisen among the troubled workers in countries with diplomatic missions and labor destinations abroad about the intentions of the Government of Nepal.
(Report prepared with the information and input of Nepali missions in Malaysia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia)
Published Date: Friday, June 5th, 2020 | 02:03 PM