Labour crisis hits 36% of construction projects in Saudi

Labour crisis hits 36% of construction projects in Saudi Dubai: Nearly 36 percent of construction projects in Saudi Arabia have been hit by labour crisis following the Gulf Kingdom's decision to introduce a labour law, according to a report.

There were 250,000 registered construction project contracts in Saudi Arabia before the first grace period to legalise expatriate workers ended on July 4.

However, 90,000 of these registered contracts, belonging to various small contracting companies have since been cancelled, the Arab News reported.

The newspaper quoted Raed Aqeili, a member of the National Committee in Saudi Chambers, as saying that most big projects were affected by the decision (to introduce Nitqat law) because they relied on small companies for employment.

The 'Nitaqat' law makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers.

As a result, a number of people from foreign countries who were working without valid work permits and runaways have come under the scanner.

Saudi Arabia has completed regularisation of nearly four million foreign workers in the last four months as part of its 'Nitaqat' programme, with 1.18 million expats choosing to change their profession.

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has extended the amnesty period for illegal foreign workers in the country by four months to November 4, bringing relief for thousands of immigrant workers, including Indians, who are yet to regularise their documents.

During the grace period many of the contractors moved their employees to other sectors, while some individual workers returned to practise professions stated in their iqamas, or residency permits, Aqeili said.

Aqeili feared the problem might escalate in the coming months, especially after the end of the grace period. He also said that contracting companies need to hire professional labourers from rental companies to carry on their work.

Once the grace period for workers without proper permits ends, all expatriates found in Saudi Arabia without valid papers will be jailed and heavily penalised.

PTI