Qatar World Cup: A worker Dies During the Construction

Annews24-Doha ,Several hundred reports of workers dying in Qatar ever since the construction of the Qatar World Cup Stadium had commenced years ago. 

And recently there was another case where, Tharu a worker who was only 23 years old died in August when he fell from a high walkway at the £512m al-Wakrah stadium, being built for the 2022 World Cup. 

“A friend of his called and told us he had fallen down. We only found that he had actually died after lots of calls and digging,” Chaudhary told the Guardian.

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In a blur of grief, his wife took two more calls from Qatar, one from Manar General Contracting, the company that employed her husband, and one from the supreme committee for delivery and legacy, the body organising the World Cup. “The man from the supreme committee said sorry. I asked him how my husband died. He said they were investigating the death,” she said. Three months later, his wife -Chaudhary is still waiting for an answer.

The Guardian had spoken to four people with direct knowledge of the incident, And according to them Tharu was carrying a large board along a 35 metre-high walkway at night, when the accident occurred.

“He fell off from the walkway … It’s usually considered safe. But people from another company had removed a [floor] plate, creating a gap. He failed to see it and fell through it,” said one source.

Another said: “One of the blocks joining the passage was taken without informing workers … creating a gap … Since Tharu was carrying a [board], he couldn’t see it and fell from there.”

A spokesperson for the supreme committee said lessons have been learned from the death and “corrective measures were implemented across the al-Wakrah site and other supreme committee sites to avoid a repeat”.

A source with knowledge of the stadium said new workers are given training and time to acclimatise before starting work, but he also described an environment where conflict and miscommunication can exist between different groups of subcontractors.

“It’s a basic conversation. Sometimes when it’s hard to understand each other, we use sign language,” he said.

Manar General Contracting has told his wife that she can expect compensation by December. Nepal’s ministry of foreign affairs said that it might take a year. “I’m so worried. I have no one to earn money for the family now. How can I pay for our daughter’s education and raise her?”

The family has received compensation from two Nepali insurance schemes but it is not enough to secure their future.

A spokesperson for the supreme committee said: “The supreme committee conducted an independent investigation into the circumstances leading to the tragic death of Mr Tharu … however, the case is currently open with Qatar’s public prosecution service. Once a final verdict has been reached we will be in a position to release more details … and will work with the relevant authorities to ensure that the appropriate funds are released.”

A human resources manager from Manar General Contracting said compensation has not been released because, “the case is still ongoing”.

Tharu’s death and the authorities’ response share resemblances to that of Zac Cox, a British construction worker who fell to his death at the Khalifa World Cup stadium in January 2017. 

Cox’s family also struggled to obtain information about his death. A British coroner investigating it concluded he died because of substandard equipment, describing his working environment as “downright dangerous”.

This wasn’t the first time workers have died and there are many reasons workers have died – the most common reasons being poor living conditions; lack of A/C in accommodations; long working hours; that and extreme temperatures that have resulted in injuries and sudden heart attacks. 

At the Al-Wakrah stadium many workers have died this year, all off site. Bhupendra Magar, 35, and Ramsis Mukhiya, 52, both Nepalis who had been working on the al-Wakrah stadium, died in their labour camp between shifts in May and June, respectively. Their families are also still waiting for compensation from their employers in Qatar, while the supreme committee categorised five similar deaths of stadium workers as non-work related.

“If we do not know how workers are dying, it is impossible to say if they are work-related deaths or not. We know the risk of heat stress exposure is extreme in the summer months and the protection is demonstrably inadequate, so these deaths raise real concerns,” says Nick McGeehan, an expert on migrant worker rights in the Gulf.

The Supreme Committee claims that it investigates all deaths on its sites. “In the case of Mr Magar and Mr Mukhiya … there were no obvious contributing factors to either death … heat stress was not a contributing factor as per experts report and the result of the medical investigation,” a spokesperson said. “The responsibility to investigate underlying causes of death lies with the relevant local authorities.”

The Qatar government did not respond to enquiries when an international law firm commissioned by Qatari authorities, in 2014 had recommended an independent body to study the deaths of the workers from cardiac arrest whether the study has been commissioned.

The al-Wakrah stadium, designed by the late British architect Zaha Hadid, is set to host group games and a quarter-final. Gianni Infantino, Fifa’s president, visited the stadium last monthand said it was “absolutely impressive”.

“Foreign employment has brought a lot of success for Nepal but this is the third death in that time,” 

Sita, Tharu’s mother, said: “I’m heartbroken. My son has gone for ever. He’s never coming back. He has a small daughter. Life is long and hard. How will she survive?”

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