A Chinese construction company working in the irrigation sector has landed hundreds of Indian and Nepali workers in hot water in Muscat after its work in the oil-rich country stopped abruptly, a report said.
Over 1,000 Indians and nearly 400 Nepalis were working on an irrigation project being executed by Chinese Sino Hydro Corporation in Oman, Nepal's leading daily Kantipur said Thursday.
A storm about a month ago disrupted the work of the project commissioned by the Muscat municipal authorities, the report said.
The underwater pipes were filled with mud due to the storm and the Chinese company asked the Muscat authorities for more time as well as money, it said.
However, the authorities refused and the project was stopped after only 20 per cent of the work had been completed.
While the officials of the Chinese company left Muscat nearly a month ago, the unskilled labourers found themselves left high and dry, without money or work.
The Nepali workers were reportedly promised work for two years and taken to Oman via New Delhi.
Sino Hydropower, which is involved in over half a dozen projects in Nepal, has been directly taking Nepali workers abroad for its projects.
This is in contravention of Nepal's labour laws that require the recruiting agency to sign an agreement with the Nepal government, the daily said.
Only about 700 registered manpower companies in Nepal have the authorisation to send Nepali workers overseas, it said.
From this month, both the Chinese and Indian governments pitched in to rescue their stranded citizens and send them home, the daily said.
However, the Nepal government has done nothing to bail out its people, Kantipur said.
The newspaper said the agents of the Chinese company, instead of sending the Nepali workers home, were pressuring them to work for other organisations.
However, since the Chinese company had brought them to Oman illegally, if they agreed to work for other companies, their wages would be much lower, the daily said.
Nepal's foreign ministry said though its attention had been drawn to the report, it had no official knowledge.
Nepal doesn't have a mission in Oman. The embassy in Saudi Arabia, which oversees Nepalis in those Gulf countries where the kingdom doesn't have a mission, is yet to send a report, officials in Kathmandu said.