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Thu 9 Jul 2009 07:20 AM

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Abu Dhabi to relocate 100,000 labourers

Firms have two months to move labourers out of Mohammed bin Zayed City.

More than 100,000 construction workers will be relocated from labour camps in Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed bin Zayed City to make the area residential.

Construction firms were told on Wednesday that they have to move the labourers away from residential areas that house Emiratis in the next two months.

Companies fear their staff housing costs will double after the move and they will have to increase wages as a result, according to a report in the National.

Labourers currently pay about AED250 ($68) a month in rent, which is usually deducted from their salaries, the paper reported. Following the move into new accommodation, rents could rise to as much as AED1,000 a month, meaning firms will have to pay staff more.

Dr Asad al Haidari, of Al Sahel Trading Group, which has 4,000 labourers living in MBZ city, said: “How is a worker with an average salary of Dh950 supposed to afford that?

"How will companies afford to increase salaries so much and lose out on profit completely? There has to be a solution or some form of compensation.”

Falah Al Ahbabi, general manager of the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, said: “Having labourers reside in MBZ city, which has become a predominantly Emirati residential area and is family designated, is no longer acceptable and is undesirable.”

He added: “The current labour camps in MBZ do not have proper safety and security features for the workers, transportation is not always readily available, and it is lacking in humanitarian needs. This reflects badly on us as a government, and so we had to remedy this situation.”

The paper reported it is likely that workers will be moved to the Al Mafraq and Hamim Bridge areas, where new residential complexes have been built.

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