Bahrain firms stop clean-up amid threats
Manama, September 19, 2011
Two of Bahrain's garbage collection companies have suspended cleaning work in troubled villages and towns across the country after reports of several threats to workers.
Both Bahrainis and expatriate workers were assaulted by youths blocking the roads and entrances to neighbourhoods, according to the reports.
The areas include Sanabis and Bilad Al Qadeem in the Capital Governorate and Nuwaidrat, Ma'meer and Sitra in the Central Governorate.
Work in 10 villages in the Northern Governorate - Karranah, Bani Jamra, Duraz, Daih, Sehla, Abu Quwah, Musla, Karzakan, Malkiya and Demistan - has also been suspended.
There are other areas where work is suspended during weekends due to clashes with the police, but they are cleaned later on, according to cleaning companies' officials.
Residents in some areas have started carrying out the cleaning work by themselves, even transporting garbage bags in rented six-wheelers to the Askar dump yard.
"We can't risk the safety of our employees and we have told the municipalities concerned that we can't enter troubled villages and towns," said Sphinx Services owner and managing director Hussain Kamal.
"The officials have allowed the company to avoid certain villages and towns, but our operations continue in other lightly affected areas that only see trouble during the weekends.
"Our Bahraini supervisors and Asian labourers have been threatened several times not to enter a number villages and towns and in some cases they were beaten up.
"We can't do normal business when our workers are afraid, despite us assuring them that the place is safe during particular times."
Sphinx covers cleaning work in the Northern, Central and Southern governorates.
Meanwhile, Gulf City Cleaning Company (GCCC) general manager Adrian Cockrem said that it was his duty to care for the safety of the people who work for him by suspending work in Sanabis and Bilad Al Qadeem.
"I have 1,200 employees, of which 200 are Bahrainis working as supervisors and drivers and when they are threatened it is my duty to inform the Manama Municipality that we are forced to suspend work," he said.
"We are not happy with the suspension decision and personally I don't like it. Hopefully things will get resolved, so that we can continue our duties normally as soon as possible. It was not an easy decision to take, but we had to take it for the well-being of our employees."
He said that the company's work elsewhere was being carried out normally without any disruption.
"Whenever there is an arrangement with the officials concerned, we will re-enter those two places, but now it is very difficult to do so," said Cockrem.
Manama Municipal Council vice-chairman Mohammed Mansoor said that residents were being forced to remove garbage bags themselves and move them away from their homes.
He said that Sanabis residents were initially moving the garbage to the nearby Dana Mall for collection by the company, but were told to stop for security reasons.
"They then started collecting bags and moving them into designated collection points, with rented six-wheelers carrying them to Askar. GCCC will have to compensate them later, considering that they were doing its job.
"We have already launched a probe into the situation concerning GCCC's failure to collect garbage in some areas not witnessing trouble during the mornings and only at night."
Mansoor, who is also Sanabis, Karbabad and the Seef District area councillor, said that garbage was decomposing after being left several hours unattended, which led to the spread of foul smells.
"Residents are really being affected by the company's decision not to clean roads, streets and neighbourhoods of villages that witness trouble," he said. "GCCC has to come up with a method to clean up those areas and suspending work doesn't serve anyone with people subjected to undesired smells." – TradeArabia News Service