Kathmandu, September 3
The case of a Nepali migrant worker falling to his death while working in a stadium being constructed for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, on August 14, recently made headlines.
While some quarters have questioned the reason behind the delay in reporting of the incident, what may come as a bigger shock is that the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) — the concerned authority that has the responsibility to handle such issues — remains ignorant about the worker’s death.
“I heard about the accident a few days ago, but such types of issues are common in foreign destinations,” Uddhav Rijal, spokesperson for DoFE, simply said.
This incident relates to 23-year-old Tej Narayan Tharu, who hailed from Morang. While additional details of the deceased could not be obtained, the Embassy of Nepal in Doha has already sent back Tharu’s body to Nepal.
According to Nitesh Sapkota, first secretary at the Nepali embassy in Doha, Tharu’s death was due to a workplace accident, but that he could not divulge more information as an investigation was under way. As per him, the family members of Tharu now need to send valid legal documents to the Nepali embassy in Doha, which will then forward the documents to the concerned company for compensation and insurance claim.
Tharu was employed by the Belgian construction giant Besix, one of the main contractors of the Al Wakrah stadium where the accident took place.
According to First Secretary Sapkota, as per Qatar’s Labour Act, if workers lose their lives while on duty, the contractor company will have to pay the compensation to the victim’s family. He also mentioned that though the compensation is yet to be paid, the employer company has disbursed all pending salary.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is solely responsible for the delivery of the required infrastructure for the World Cup in Qatar, released a press note on August 14 itself and said that they are investigating the accident.
“His next of kin has been informed and the relevant Qatari and Nepali authorities have been notified. An investigation has been launched and further details about the incident will be released in due course. The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy shares its deepest condolences with the family at this time,” read the press note.
However, Rajan Prasad Shrestha, executive director of the Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB), informed that the board has not been officially notified about Tharu’s death. “If the victim’s family informs us and submits the necessary documents, we will follow the legal procedure and hand over Rs 700,000, which is provided to families of workers who die due to workplace accidents.”
As per Shrestha, the FEPB provides compensation under 11 categories for migrants with valid visas who die in foreign destinations. The categories include cardiac arrest, suicide, workplace accident, road accident, murder, among others.
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A version of this article appears in print on September 04, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.