Who to stop sufferings of migrant workers when even the minister is helpless

The statement of our expatriate welfare minister has once again proved how careless we are towards those migrant workers who are the main source of remittance we often gloat over. It was construed from his speech that he had surrendered to the situation.

The expat minister, Imran Ahmed, said, the expatriate workers had to pay extra fare while mismanagement at the airport added up to their sufferings. The expat workers have to suffer at the airport for hours while travelling. He also admitted that he could not solve these problems. In his words, "I wrote several times to various ministries and departments, but of no use. I am helpless.” He asked the media to question civil aviation, immigration and Bangladesh Biman authorities about the mismanagement at the airport and excess fare.”

The question is, if the authorities did not pay any heed to the minister’s request and letters, will they care about the media at all?

Many expat workers had to return due to the Covid situation while many of them got stranded due to flight closure. Many new workers could not leave due to the pandemic. All of them have been charged extra fare when the flight ban has been lifted and they were all set to go back to work. Can all these airlines increase the fare arbitrarily? Is there no regulations regarding fare hike?

The main destination for migrant workers in Bangladesh is the Middle East. Various proposals have been discussed including increase in flights to Middle East including Bangladesh Biman, allocation of additional slots, and announcement of special fares for the workers during peak season. But nothing effective is happening with these.

Now if the minister for expatriate welfare says that no work is being done at the response of his letters or requests, then it must be understood that there is no coordination between the work of different departments and agencies of the government. Everyone is proceeding at their will, no one bothered about the other.

The mismanagement of the airport has added additional hardship for the expatriate workers. It is transpired from various media reports and through social media that the management of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport has practically collapsed. Due to the fact that the flight was closed for eight hours at night for repairs, the pressure on day flights has increased and this is a reality.

But why doesn’t any passenger get an empty trolley at the airport even after walking for half an hour? Why will the trolleys not be at the airport? Why not have instructions for passengers? Or why the AC in the waiting room will not work? What will the airport authorities say in this regard? These are all managerial issues.

The airport authorities and the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) assured everyone that despite the eight-hour flight shutdown and rescheduling of flights, preparations were being made for the airport to run smoothly. Those were just empty words. They have failed to deliver on their promise and thousands of passengers are suffering every day. Such chaos was inevitable given the lack of accountability in the system. In the statement of the expat minister, that helplessness was portrayed. When the minister is helpless, who will alleviate the suffering of the expatriate workers?