Lankan worker rejects paltry compensation

Updated 10 December 2013
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Lankan worker rejects paltry compensation

A Sri Lankan worker who lost his leg while working refused Monday to accept SR5,000 as compensation from his Saudi sponsor.
Ruwan Chamara Herath, 29, suffered a serious accident while driving a vehicle without headlights. He claimed his sponsor forced him to drive the vehicle at midnight even though he knew that the headlights were not working, Herath alleged.
The worker said that the sponsor wants to forcibly repatriate him against his wishes without giving proper compensation. “The SR5,000 which the sponsor has promised is my three months' wages and allowances,” he said, lamenting that he cannot go home in this manner.
“How can I go home without a leg? How am I going to help my wife? I’m the breadwinner of the family,” he said. He also has a two-year-old baby.
“I need proper compensation from my sponsor and I want an artificial leg so that I can continue with my life.”
He claimed that his sponsor has refused to pay him last month’s salary because he apparently had to repair the truck involved in the accident.
The office of the Sri Lankan consulate general has intervened in this matter to look after the interests of the distressed worker. “We are working out a suitable compensation for the worker,” an official from the consulate told Arab News from Jeddah.
He added that the sponsor has to pay a sizable compensation to the worker since the person had met with the accident while on duty.
Herath claimed that the company he works for treats its workers “like slaves without proper regard for local labor regulations.” He said he had to do 20 trips a day transporting sand in huge trucks for a cement factory, along with 16 other Sri Lankan drivers.
“Our sponsor has not given us iqamas or driver’s licenses for the last nine months.”
Herath said the drivers were afraid to go outside because they feared the authorities would arrest them. He also claimed that most of the company’s trucks are not properly insured which makes it impossible for him to get compensation.
He said he came to the Kingdom to make money to build his dream house on a plot of land he owns in Gampaha, a suburb some 30 km from Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital.
He said an artificial leg would cost him money equivalent to SR8,000 in Sri Lanka. He would be happy if someone could help him purchase it. He has asked the Sri Lankan Consulate in Jeddah for assistance.


A jubilant Saudi Arabia celebrates its past, present … and future

Updated 24 min 41 sec ago
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A jubilant Saudi Arabia celebrates its past, present … and future

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said National Day is an opportunity to recall the achievements of the country’s founder
  • Saudi Arabia’s friends around the world outdid themselves in expressing their wishes to the Kingdom

RIYADH/JEDDAH/DUBAI:  It was a day that captured the heightened spirit of a nation.

In a year of remarkable changes, Saudi National Day on Sunday took on an exuberance like no other celebration before it, with enough fireworks to break a world record, people celebrating together outdoors across the land and landmarks around the world illuminated with the flag. 

In a speech marking the Kingdom’s 88th National Day, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman praised the nation’s growth under King Salman, saying that while Vision 2030 “looks forward to the future,” Saudi Arabia “will remain committed to the principles” of Islam, “the religion of tolerance and moderation.”

The crown prince said National Day is an opportunity to recall the achievements of the country’s founder, King Abdul Aziz, and his sons. “On our National Day, we take pride in our country’s position on an international, Islamic and Arab level.” 

His sentiments were echoed by citizens, who gathered last night in 20 cities to watch more than 900,000 fireworks light up the sky.

Laser light show at a Jeddah stadium Sunday night as part of National Day celebrations. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“I am so happy with all the changes going on under the visionary leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi women are happy to join the National Day parades, this year behind the wheel,” said Saudi actor and presenter Khairiah Abu Laban.

“We went around the city to see the lighting and the fireworks,” said Saleh Al-Omri, a pharmacist in Riyadh. “Green and white balloons fill either side of Riyadh streets.”

Saudi Arabia’s friends around the world outdid themselves in expressing their wishes to the Kingdom over the weekend, culminating on the day. 

The Burj Khalifa was illuminated with the Saudi flag, while the Nasdaq Tower’s digital billboard in New York’s Times Square was lit up with photos of King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the flags of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

In Lebanon, Pigeon Rocks, in Raouché off the coast of Beirut, were lit in the colors of the Saudi flag. 

The UAE’s airlines got in on the game. Emirates operated a special one-off A380 service on Sunday to Riyadh, and crew handed out scarves emblazoned with the countries’ flags.

Not to be outdone, Etihad said it was using the only Saudi A380 pilot in the world, Wesam Sameer Al-Najjar, to fly its Year of Zayed plane to Jeddah with the UAE’s Captain Ahmed Almalood. 

And if all that wasn’t enough, King Salman added an extra day, Monday, to the holiday.