JEDDAH: Civic authorities in Madinah on Tuesday finalized plans for the implementation of housing projects for thousands of migrant workers.
In April, Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman announced three pilot schemes to overcome the issue of overcrowding in the quarters accommodating workers from abroad.
The initiatives have become even more important in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. The three projects spread over 39,000 square meters will help eliminate 40 percent of accommodation problems for foreign workers.
Prince Faisal said migrant workers who came to Saudi Arabia seeking a better life for themselves and their families were “our responsibility, and we shall do everything in our power to keep them safe until they return to their homelands.”
The housing plan was conceived not only in recognition of the urgent public health situation, but also as a long-term solution to the challenge of accommodating the large number of workers employed on various projects in the holy city.
Al-Khalil’s 976 units can lodge up to 3,000 workers and over the next 18 months five more housing sites will be developed by the private sector in coordination with Madinah municipality. On the prince’s instructions, the workers’ housing committee swung into action to provide temporary hotel accommodation for workers in the city’s central region until alternative sites were ready.
The authorities are also providing health care services to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among workers, and when cases were identified, medical services in coordination with the Madinah Health Affairs General Directorate.
Chairman of the board of directors of the Madinah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Munir bin Saad, told Arab News that with the joint efforts and cooperation of all relevant bodies, a national company was developing the facilities, which would be completed within the next three months.
“We’ve been entrusted with taking care and ensuring a decent life for these workers. This model housing project is one part of our responsibility toward them,” he said. Officials carried out a comprehensive field survey of residential neighborhoods and monitored sites inhabited by expatriate workers to ensure compliance with laws and regulations approved by the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs.
Committees comprising 70 members of various government agencies, visited all of the city’s districts according to geographical distribution and verified that there were 800 sites inhabited by more than 50,000 workers.
While addressing cases of overcrowding in line with measures to protect workers from the virus, the committees also ensured healthy environments in workers’ current residences and alternative or new locations.
Some of the steps taken where overcrowding was identified, included moving 3,000 workers to temporary accommodation, and renovating or fixing existing sites to make them safe from COVID-19.
During the period hosting workers in temporary housing, authorities have provided more than 40,000 free meals, distributed 85,000 food baskets to workers at their residences, especially neighborhoods in quarantine, and dished out more than 488,000 free meals to workers before and throughout the holy month of Ramadan.
Joint committees are also taking measures to maintain and monitor health standards at workers’ housing sites and address any violations.