Khadka Purja of Baranga VDC- 2, Myagdi district is one of the busiest workers at the construction site of Khalifa stadium in Qatar, where the 2022 World Cup is going to be held. Balkrishna Khatri of Piple VDC in the same district is working at the metro rail station under construction in the same Gulf country. From Myagdi district alone, dozens of Nepalis have been working day and night to build new infrastructure for the grand footballing event. It is estimated that 3,500 workers from Nepal alone are contributing their labor to that end.
“Around 3,500 Nepalis are currently engaged in the construction of infrastructure for the World Cup,” Purja said. “Nepalis are toiling away in the blistering heat to build the stadium and other infrastructure,” he added.
According to Purja, construction companies are happy to hire Nepali workers because of their honesty and devotion to work. Nepalis are working not only as laborers but in higher positions as well. “There are Nepali engineers and site in-charges also,” he said.
Purja further said that the issue of pay is not that acute anymore. Since the Nepali embassy is quicker to respond to workers’ problems these days, cases of exploitation in jobs have decreased, he noted. “The Non-Resident Nepalis Association, the embassy and also the employers are more understanding. Even the Qatar government is more sensitive about its reputation as an employer,” says Purja. He, however, added that the risks of mishaps at the construction sites are immense.
Among the 12 stadiums under construction in seven municipalities, nine will be brand new while the remaining three are being renovated. Even though the temperature during summer rises to around 50 degrees Celsius here, modern solar technology is being used to bring this down to just 20 degrees.
The Qatar government plans to complete the construction work by 2021. Besides the Khalifa international stadium, there are also the Sports City Stadium, Education City Stadium, Alkhor City Stadium, Al Bakrai Stadium and Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, among others. These stadiums can each accommodate between 30,000 to 90,000 people. The World Cup opening ceremony will be held at Khalifa stadium, where scores of Nepalis are engaged in the construction work. Representatives of the Nepali Embassy and Labor Ministry keep visiting the sites to keep an eye on the conditions for Nepali workers, Purja said.
“We have coordinated with the Nepali Embassy in Qatar for the security and welfare of our workers. We try to listen to their grievances and respond in the best way,” said Binesh Tamang, president of the NRN Association. “We are doing our best for the safety and security of Nepali workers. We are playing the role of coordinator,” he added.
According to Tamang, a separate Labor Department has also been formed for the welfare of Nepali laborers. Prem Rasaili is the coordinator of this department, Tamang informed.
Meanwhile, Purja expressed a desire to contribute labor for similar mega project in his own country. He said, it would bring greater satisfaction if Nepalis could develop their own country. Similar is the aspiration of Khushi Gurung of Kaski. “We wish we would develop our country equally beautifully,” he said.