Ras Al Khaimah labourers riot after apparent suicide
RAS AL KHAIMAH // Labourers wrecked and set fire to their building site and 17 cars in Ras Al Khaimah, after a worker fell to his death in an apparent suicide.
There was widespread vandalism and arson at the Emirates National School site, but no injuries were reported.
Police said 17 of the company’s vehicles were set alight by the labourers, along with electricity generators, fuel tanks and offices.
Preliminary investigations suggest the incident on Saturday began when one of the workers died after falling from the fifth floor of a building at the construction site.
A police crowd-control team calmed the men down while Civil Defence fire crews dealt with the burning property.
Maj Gen Ali Al Nuaimi, head of RAK Police, said investigations were continuing and urged labourers to obey the law in resolving disputes.
“There are lawful ways and open channels for workers to reach the governing bodies to help them with solutions. Violence and vandalism are not the way,” Gen Al Nuaimi said.
Early reports of a disturbance at a building site in RAK circulated around social media on Saturday evening.
Pictures of the burning site, which is near Al Ittihad University exit off Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, went viral on Twitter.
Roads in the surrounding areas were blocked by Civil Defence and police during the incident, which lasted through the night.
“I’m not sure what happened but I saw a picture on Instagram of the school in flames,” said Ahmed Al Shehi, 24, who lives in Khalifa City in RAK. “I also got several warnings from friends on WhatsApp asking us all not to leave the house.
“The police said it was a strike but people believe it might’ve been more than that. We don’t know, though.”
Gen Al Nuaimi urged members of the public not to spread rumours on social media. Police did not provide a name for the construction company involved. But they released statements on their website and their Instagram and Facebook accounts about the trouble.
Saeed Abdulrahman, 19, a local, said: “The exit leading to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road was blocked because of the siege. I could see the smoke from the building from afar.
“I received warnings claiming that we shouldn’t go out. There was a large number of cars and fire lorries. It was an uncommon scene.
“We all assumed that maybe it was a strike over a salary dispute or living conditions. I’m saddened to hear that someone committed suicide. I’m sad that it had come to that.”
Businessman Ahmed Al Yammahi, who lives close to the site, said: “We have never experienced such agitation from workers in the city before. It’s a rare protest from workers.
“But torching vehicles and vandalising properties are unwarranted in the Emirates.”
Police had cordoned off the area and smoke billowed from the site about 8.30pm on Saturday, Mr Al Yammahi said.
* With reporting by Anwar Ahmad
Updated: April 12, 2015 04:00 AM