Safety first..

safety firsta guest prepares for snorkelling

If any lessons would have been learnt from the recent Huraa tragedy, it will shortly translate to policies and hopefully legislation which we currently do not have. However more relevant would have been a change in attitude to personal  safety, even which  cannot sprout up quickly. Reflecting on the Huraa tragedy and past such tragedies, here is a list of improvements which could be helpful.

  1. Resorts could employ life guards to monitor the beaches full time because our tourism industry is rapidly changing with more arrivals coming from mainland China and the East  which is very different from traditional European  markets.
  2. Some resorts even now do employ safety procedures like making guests wear life jackets on the journey to and from airport / resort which is a good thing. Although most resorts still overlooks this procedure, it could be a good improvement on personal safety issues.
  3. Over the course of the last few years, we have lost quite a number of able bodied fishermen to sea at various work related accidents. Safety work regulation could make it a requirement for fishermen also to don proper  safety gear at work.
  4. Construction industry also needs tougher rules on safety. Currently the only guys who wear the hard-hats and safety shoes in a typical construction site will be expat contract workers whose only fear  which makes them wear them is  possible loss of insurance cover in an eventuality.

Better living conditions at work site by law

typical resort workers accomodation  would look like this.
typical resort workers accomodation

When employers are remarkably stubborn, everything has to be done by the force of law! Atleast that seems to be how it works in the country. Although we have a booming tourism and an accompanying, construction industry, workers of both industries generally live in medieval conditions. The plight is especially worse for construction industry as the workers are mostly expatriate workers. Worse means ‘small’ things like having to work 7 days a week, no pay for 6 months, a makeshift toilet for one in 50 people and things like that. However its to their credit that Minivan observes that the most frequent complaint of expatriate workers is about unpaid wages, while that for locals is about living conditions. However the ever persistent demand by resort workers about service charge is also about money which is also legally theirs.
Minivan has an excellent article on these lines here… Pls follow to read.

Although our construction workers build world class resorts, their work accommodation is definitely other-worldly..

accomodation for resort construction workers
typical construction workers accomodation

The contractors

Invariably, the first resort workers in any resort workers will be the contractors and professionals (and the non-skilled) who are associated with the various construction and infrastructure works in a resort. The life of a regular resort worker is easy compared to a contractor. In the construction industry they work hard, live and die hard and earn more. Generally for the outdoor kinds of folks its an ideal job if not for the nature of business which is highly irregular and unorganized. Most contracted workers are just temporary workers and they would have gotten their job or works from some other contractor who would have subcontracted to them their works. This chain of subcontracting sometime would go as high as five or 6 steps to reach the very top which would be some top established brand in Male’ and their only responsibility from a perspective would be nothing more than signing some obscure papers. The real works are done by lowest of the subcontracting ladder and the real fun is also there.
From initial ground works in a typical uninhabited island to the last final touches to a full five star deluxe resort, the work goes at break-neck speed and as the deadlines looms for the eventual opening the more enjoyable the work is. Often at last stages of the construction of the resort, the works would be continuous 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The only break a contracted worker would get is when they ran out of supplies, or awaiting demolition orders for some structure which gets modification, or when they had to await for concrete to dry up a little bit etc. Also the unstructured nature of employment as contracted worker means they can take off days arbitrarily. After the resort is finally opened up and handed over to the operators, some of the contracted workers would have a tougher job in Male’ finding their bosses and getting their pay which is not very fun after toiling hard for often a year or half in a hard job. Its quite frequent to find contracted employees in and out of courts pursuing their ‘group bosses’ or the contractor who subcontracted to them etc.
The problem lies in our construction industry which is still at an early date of development overwhelmed by an unregulated workforce both foreign and local and lacking guidelines, codes as well as knowledge and know required of modern construction works.