Sunday, November 09, 2008

Living in Boxes - The other side of Dubai

Naif box spaces offer solace to workers

Four men share a one-by-two metre windowless room in one of the many shared accommodations in Naif.

Since the length of the room is only slightly larger than the height of an adult male, the workers have to make vertical arrangements by having two sleep on a two-level bunk bed while the other two sleep on the tiles beneath. A fan is attached to a wall to keep them cool.

This is one of thousands of rooms in overcrowded illegal houses in Naif area that are rented out to low-income workers for Dh300 to Dh500 a month per bed space. Although the size of the rooms and number of occupants vary, the living conditions in most of the rooms are the same.
It was in one of these town houses that the fire which claimed 11 lives broke out in August. Officials attributed the serious nature of the incident to overcrowding and illegal extensions.
Illegal extentions
There are more than 200 houses and buildings with illegal extensions in Naif area alone, according to Dubai Municipality statistics.
Many of these houses have illegal extensions such as additional floors, bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens. The extensions are often made with material such as plywood, which pose a fire hazard. Some of the houses have makeshift kitchens consisting of mobile stoves and the gas cylinders a few inches apart in corridors.

Upon entering the houses, one is greeted first by piles of shoes - about 30 pairs. Multiple water and electricity meters can be seen attached to the walls, indicating the consumption of water and electricity.
The authorities have tried to curb overcrowding and illegal extension building partly by cutting utilities to the buildings but tenants have found ways to reconnect it through a simple fuse-replacement procedure.
Landlords taking advantage of the rent situation in Dubai are adding rooms and putting partitions in the houses without licensing in order to maximise their profits, according to Omar Abdul Al Rahman, Head of the building inspection department at Dubai Municipality. They use cheap material which poses a serious fire and health hazard such as plywood and asbestos, a banned cancer causing material.

Despite the dangerous conditions of these houses, many low-income workers have to pay up to Dh5,000 to real estate agents or watchmen in commission to get a bed space.
A Pakistani worker who spoke to Gulf News on condition of anonymity shares a room in Naif with seven people. The three-by-four metre room has four bunk beds, all occupied, while another two workers sleep on the floor. Strict rules of having the TV and lights switched of at 11pm are set to avoid fights between roommates.
"I work throughout the day and at night I come to this overcrowded small room. I feel like I have been transformed into a machine that works during the day and is put into this box at night," he said.
Taken from GulfNews


Imran Yusuf said...

Tuan Fudzail,

Nampaknya keadaan tempat tinggal yang crowded yang terpaksa dihadapi oleh pekerja asing yang berpendapatan rendah ini ada di mana-mana--termasuk di Malaysia.

Bila agaknya keadaan yang mendukacitakan ini akan berubah menjadi bertambah baik.

MikeLing said...

If the location was not mentioned, we could mistaken it for any kongsi in our construction site here in Malaysia.

manlaksam said...

Pak Man pernah tinggal dalam kongsi yang lagi teruk masa kerja di S'pore dalam tahun 1982.Tak ada katil.
Longkang Changi Airport tu hasil kerja Pak Man.
Orang buat airport tapi kami buat longkang airport, jadi lah...

Qaseh said...

Pak Man,

Saya warga Singapura dan saya rasa simpati apabila mendapat tahu Pak Man terpaksa tinggal di lokasi yang berkeadaan teruk untuk mencari rezeki yang halal di Singapura. Namun saya hargai jasa bakti Pak Man yang telah bekerja keras untuk menjadikan Singapura negara yang baik dan maju, walaupun hanya membuat longkang Changi Airport (setiap kali melihat longkang Changi Airport saya akan beringat bahwa ini adalah hasil kerja dari salah seorang pekerja-pekerja bernama Pak Man).

Semoga rezeki Pak Man bertambah dan diberkati. Saya tabik!

Qaseh said...

Memang perkara ini mendukacitakan sekali.

Tidak patut mereka bekerja keras untuk membina yang terbaik, terbesar, tercantik, termewah di Dubai untuk bangsa asing dan/atau kaya..tetapi mereka sendiri tinggal di tempat yang teruk begini sehinggakan meragut nyawa. Mereka juga manusia, dan saya kagumi mereka sangat sabar dan tabah menghadapi hidup yang susah. keringat mereka patut dihargai..mereka patut diberikan tempat tinggal yang lebih baik dari ini seperti membina dormitori pekerja asing. Kerajaan Dubai tidak peka pada perkara ini? Takkanlah boleh papa kedana kalau bina dormitory untuk mereka?