Mandatory Quarantine Spending Own Money

Frustration grips Saudi-bound stranded workers

Staff Correspondent

22 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Hundreds of Saudi Arabia bound stranded workers have expressed their dissatisfaction over the new rules imposed by the Gulf state authorities.

Many of them said they do not have additional money to spend for availing mandatory seven days quarantine facilities upon their arrival in the Kingdom.

Biman Bangladesh Airlines operates its flights to three Saudi cities -- Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh -- from Dhaka while Saudi Airlines (Saudia) operates planes on eight routes to the oil rich Middle Eastern country.

Usually, price of one way ticket of these routes varies from Tk 45,000 to Tk 57,000 but the Saudi Arabia bound passengers now need to spend additional Tk 65,700 as hotel bills as they have to stay in seven days quarantine in the hotels approved by the Saudi Ministry of Tourism.

It means they are bound to spend 20 percent more money for paying hotel bills than the price of their air tickets.

Saudi Arabia bound stranded workers term this inhuman and a huge burden on them. They also said either the Saudi government or Bangladesh authorities should bear this additional cost.

Mahfuzur Rahman, a Jeddah bound stranded expatriate worker, said, “This is really unexpected. I came to the country on leave in October last year. Despite repeated efforts, I couldn’t go back to my work place in time for the pandemic.”

“Finally, I bought an air ticket after Eid but now the airlines authorities  are saying that I wouldn’t go to Saudi Arabia if I don’t deposit money for hotel booking,” he added.

“I have spent all the money I brought. Now how I would be able to manage money for it,” he said, adding that the Saudi government or Bangladesh authorities should pay this bill.  Stranded workers also said they are getting misinformation and the airlines authorities are not helping them.

“My Saudi Airlines flight is scheduled to leave Dhaka for Dammam on May 24. I couldn’t book hotel yet. I bought my ticket from a travel agency but they are saying that they wouldn’t book hotels for me,” said Belayat Hossain, a Dammam bound stranded worker.

“I went to Saudi Airlines office in Karwan Bazar on Friday but they didn’t book hotel for me as they were booking hotels for the passengers who had tickets for May 22 and 23,” he added.

Jahirul Islam, another Dammam bound stranded worker, said, “After reaching Dhaka on Thursday, I came to know that I need to deposit Tk 65,700 for staying at a hotel during quarantine period. My flight is scheduled for May 22. How would I manage additional money in such a short notice?”

Some of the stranded workers have booked hotels which are not approved by the Saudi Ministry of Tourism. Therefore, they are asked to book hotels again.

Besides, a few workers alleged that their hotel booking was cancelled as while booking hotels they provided their Bangladeshi phone number though they needed to give the phone number that they would use during their stay in the Kingdom.

Manpower recruiters assume that Biman Bangladesh Airlines has cancelled their flights for five days to avoid all these complexities.

Saudi bound stranded workers have to undergo two PCR tests on the first and seventh day of quarantine respectively which will cost 258 Saudi Riyal (Tk 6,000).