Poor expats in Bahrain hit by postal rates rise
Manama, February 13, 2014
Poor expatriates living in Bahrain have been hit hard by rising costs of postal charges, according to campaigners.
Bahrain Post increased postage rates by up to 300 per cent last December, which has affected businesses, especially publishing houses that heavily rely on the postal services, even forcing some to relocate abroad, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
However, migrant workers' rights activists say the worst affected are low-income labourers, who rely on inexpensive postal service to send letters and parcels home.
Angela Marquis, who volunteers at Sacred Heart Church and the Ecumenical Conference of Charity, says many foreign workers have been forced to stop using Bahrain's postal service.
"I know of an Indian family who have said they can no longer afford to send parcels of goods, like household items, food and clothing back home to their families," she told the GDN.
"Some are resorting to sending them by cargo which is still very costly for them.
"I know there are also a lot of Ethiopians who send packages home who have to stop.
"This is one of the biggest motivations for some of these workers to even be out here, to earn money so they can send things home to their children and families."
Bahrain resident Ivor Hoppe, who helps low-income workers through various campaigns, said the new costs were unfairly targeting poor sectors of the workforce.
"Most of these Asian or Ethiopian workers come here for a better life and to take up the kind of work which no-one else will do," he said.
"Their main link with home is through letters to their families and this now has to stop due to the exorbitant increase in overseas postage rates.
"Letters to loved ones have to cease and the parcels which they could send at acceptable rates, have gone.
"They manage to get messages back to their families through their friends with email access.
"Why is one of the most needful sectors of the Bahrain workforce being targeted?"
The GDN earlier reported that the new rates apply to local mail and anything sent within the Gulf as well as international postal charges.
Banks and businesses throughout Bahrain have been up in arms over the unexplained increase, claiming it is having an immediate and dramatic impact on their businesses, with many banks relying on postal services to send out account and product information to customers.
It now costs BD12 ($31.7) to send a small 2kg parcel to India, BD36 to send a 10kg parcel and a 20kg parcel will cost BD66. - TradeArabia News Service