The furniture movers of Abu Dhabi on the hunt for business
ABU DHABI // Moving house, need furniture shifted and want a reasonable price? If so, head for the car park beside the Central Post Office.
Each day, dozens of lorries and vans are lined up at the downtown location as packers wait to be hired and movers shout their fees.
“This is our full-time job and we don’t do anything else,” says Pakistani driver Widan Gull.
“Nowadays, there is not much work and there is always a danger of being fined while standing here,” says the 24-year-old, who has lived in Abu Dhabi for about three years.
With more than 30 lorries and pick-ups parked beside the Central Post Office when The National visited last week, about 50 packers were milling about waiting for business.
Mr Gull spoke of his life in Abu Dhabi where he shares a room with nine others, paying Dh400 a month for accommodation.
He says labourers typically can earn from Dh500 to Dh1,000 a week transporting goods, but the amount is not enough to finance food, fuel and accommodation.
The labourers charge as little as Dh60 for moving furniture in the city centre, while professional movers, in comparison, can cost about Dh1,300.
Mohammed Ali, a supervisor at Good Link Movers and Packers in Abu Dhabi, says his company charges Dh1,300 for a one-bedroom flat, “whether it is in the city, next door or to Mussaffah”.
For a move from Abu Dhabi to Dubai or to Al Ain the price can rise up to Dh1,700. The unofficial packers, however, charge just Dh400 for moves to Dubai and Al Ain and haggling is expected.
“We can earn about Dh1,000 at the weekend, but sometimes we end up getting Dh100,” says Mr Gull, who lives on Al Nasir Street in the capital.
He points out that parking is a particular problem as the area where they wait to procure work is designated for light vehicles; lorries and vans are not supposed to park there. “We risk parking here for businesses. Many times I was fined,” Mr Gull says.
The drivers are usually on the streets from 7am to 10pm and are allowed to park near Shabiah Police station on Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak or Najda Street. Most, however, go to the city centre in the hope of attracting more business.
“I parked there for a month but there was no business. In the morning we come here at 7am or 8am and risk being fined because then there are many police patrolling,” he says.
Business, Mr Gull says, is also declining because many families are moving out of the city centre or have left the country due to the rising cost of living. For those who live here, their goods might be shifted by their companies, he laments.
Naseem Khan, another Pakistani driver who has lived in Abu Dhabi for 14 years, agrees that making a living can be increasingly difficult. “The earnings have shrunk nowadays and then there are the police fines,” the 26-year-old says.
“If we did not come here, we wouldn’t be able to make any money out there in Shabiah, the place designated to park. Expenses in the city have risen too much. We rent a cheap place to reside as we have to pay for our food too,” he says.
“Some days we earn about Dh200 and the rest of the days we have to sit jobless. We shift mostly small families who don’t change apartments every year. That’s why we have a limited number of customers.”
Home life can be fairly rough for the bachelor movers too as many live in city buildings where the rules allow three men to share one room of 14 square metres. Smaller spaces or more residents are not permitted.
The movers mostly live in old buildings where rent is affordable, says Mr Khan, who pays Dh300 for a bedspace, which he shares with nine others.
Another driver, who did not wish to be named, flashed a huge bundle of fines issued to him by the police for parking infractions.
“Close to one hundred illegal parking tickets were issued to me by the police but still we are here, as business is here.”
Updated: July 14, 2014 04:00 AM