x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Firms housing workers onsite face stiff fines

Dubai announces fines of up to Dh25,000 for companies who house workers at factories or worksites without permission.

DUBAI // Dubai yesterday announced fines of up to Dh25,000 (US$6,800) for companies who house workers at factories or worksites without permission. The decision follows checks by municipal inspectors of companies across the city. The municipality said it would fine offenders between Dh5,000 and Dh25,000, depending on the severity of the offence. The fines, said Hussain Nasser Lootah, the acting director general of the municipality, were aimed at "safeguarding public health and preserving safety of communities living in Dubai".

The announcement comes just months after police found at least 200 labourers living in filthy cardboard boxes in which their employers allegedly housed them in the basement of a building site. The situation was discovered in July after the labourers went on strike to protest against their living conditions. Police have filed a case against the general manager of the company in question. The municipality said firms found housing between six to 20 workers on work premises would now be fined Dh5,000, and Dh10,000 for between 21 to 30 workers. A fine of Dh15,000 would be imposed for housing between 31 and 50 workers in such conditions, and Dh25,000 for more than 50 workers.

Officials said companies that wanted to house any workers in factories or worksites would be allowed to apply for a special permit that would mandate the accommodation met a certain standard. Mr Lootah added that such housing also had to be separate from the actual working area, or else the company would be fined Dh5,000 per worker. The municipality yesterday also announced a fine of Dh10,000 for building owners who fail to repair sewage leaks.

The fine for spitting the juice from betel leaves in public was doubled to Dh1,000 and officials said the fines for the import, trade or possession of betel leaves would also be raised from Dh5,000 to Dh50,000. The fines are the latest in a string of measures introduced by the municipality recently to clean up the city. Its top priority is people disposing of sewage water in open areas or in any other non-designated areas. Individuals or companies can be hit with a Dh100,000 fine for the offence.

The municipality recently moved against dozens of sewage tanker drivers and companies after they were found to be dumping raw sewage through stormwater drainage pipes, as well as on beaches and in the desert. The drivers can be deported if caught repeating the offence. The city also launched an extensive media campaign this year to urge residents to stop spitting in public and littering. Fines were imposed after several weeks of the campaign.

The municipality said all fines announced would be doubled if companies or individuals were caught repeating offences within 12 months. It added that it could also confiscate vehicles and suspend trade licences of offenders. pmenon@thenational.ae