Wretched lifetime of migrants constructing Senegal’s metropolis of the longer term

Wretched lifetime of migrants constructing Senegal’s metropolis of the longer term

Wretched lifetime of migrants constructing Senegal’s metropolis of the longer term

When Mohamed was employed on the development web site for the United Nations’ new West Africa headquarters in Senegal, he was proud to say he can be working “not just for Africa, however for the world.”

The 25-year-old Sierra Leonean was a plumber on the positioning, the centrepiece of what’s meant to be a futuristic metropolis boasting an Olympic stadium, ministries and a commuter prepare line operating 40 kilometres (25 miles) to the capital Dakar.

However 9 months in the past, Mohamed’s goals evaporated when an air conditioner he was putting in fell on his palms, slicing off a part of a finger and damaging a thumb.

Now not so dextrous, he says he was fired with out pay and unable to seek out regular work.

His story is much from distinctive.

Younger males from Sierra Leone, Guinea and even distant Nigeria have flocked to Diamniadio, lured by the imaginative and prescient of an honest job and pay in a steady foreign money. They’re amongst hundreds of labourers toiling on development websites throughout the budding metropolis.

AFP spoke to greater than a dozen migrant staff.

Every recounted a lifetime of excessive hardship, dwelling in decrepit shared lodging hours from the development websites, working infinite days for minimal pay, and haunted by concern of damage that might depart them penniless.

“They advised us that our wage is the worth of our soul… In a phrase, it’s slavery,” stated Alpha, a Guinean metal erector. Like all the employees AFP met, his household identify is being stored nameless, and his first identify has been modified.

The Chinese language-owned agency WIETC, on the centre of lots of their accusations, denied any abuse and stated it stringently upheld Senegal’s legal guidelines.

– 13-hour days –

Over the previous decade, a once-fertile agricultural zone in Diamniadio has been changed by large development websites, a mission spearheaded by President Macky Sall to ease congestion in Dakar and modernise Senegal’s picture.

The UN workplace, a public-private partnership between Senegalese entities, is a dramatic 60,000-square-metre (650,000 square-feet) construction within the form of a whirling star.

It is without doubt one of the new metropolis’s keystone tasks, together with the Dakar Diamniadio Sports activities Metropolis, a personal mission that may characteristic a luxurious resort, eating places and outlets.

However labourers who had labored on each websites advised AFP they typically labored there as many as 13 hours a day, seven days every week, and had been paid the equal of about $7 per day or much less.

The Senegalese labour code stipulates one 24-hour interval off per week. The minimal wage for low-skilled labourers in Senegal’s development business ranges from 378 CFA ($0.60) to 658 CFA ($1.04) per hour.

“These are clearly inhumane circumstances,” stated Seydi Gassama, head of Amnesty Worldwide in Senegal. “All staff ought to be capable to work and have days off, whether or not they’re Senegalese or worldwide residents.”

Some stated they walked as a lot as two hours every solution to get to work.

All the employees AFP met stated that they had not signed any contract, and had been provided no help once they had been injured.

On a go to to Diamniadio late final 12 months, AFP met Bakary, a Sierra Leonean who had been working at Sports activities Metropolis and bore marks from being hit within the head by tools the day earlier than.

He stated he was despatched residence with out pay and advised to return the next day or be fired. He stated his superiors didn’t take him to the physician or pay for any treatment.

“They’re very vile and shout at and insult the employees — even in case you are exhausted they drive you to do it, in case you are injured they do not deal with you,” stated Alpha.

Others stated that they had been bodily abused.

“Day-after-day… they shout, shout, hit you, abuse you,” stated Ibrahim, a 26-year-old labourer, who like Bakary and Alpha had labored on the Sports activities Metropolis web site.

If a employee misunderstands a supervisor, he stated, they “will come and push you, hit you, punch you… When you punch him again, you get sacked, so when he punch, you simply should swallow it, bear it and work.”

– Labour legal guidelines –

Lots of the allegations touched on therapy by WIETC, which was contracted to construct each the UN complicated and Sports activities Metropolis.

In a written response to AFP, WIETC’s West Africa normal supervisor stated his firm had complied absolutely with Senegalese laws.

All workers had been declared to the Senegalese Social Safety Fund, and any who had been injured at work had been lined for medical therapy and paid till their restoration, He Shenjian stated.

As for time beyond regulation, he stated night and weekend work was “distinctive” and solely occurred when staff “freely consent to take part,” although the migrants interviewed stated there was no alternative.

Madani Tall, the developer of each websites, stated he was not conscious of any allegations earlier than AFP had raised them.

He referred to the employees as day labourers, although they advised AFP that their hours had been logged and so they had been paid month-to-month.

“Senegalese legislation doesn’t require a contract for a day labourer,” Tall stated.

Having itinerant day labourers, he added, “is one thing that’s not explicit to Senegal — it is what you have got on all of the websites,” together with in america and Europe.

However Senegalese authorized agency Geni & Kebe stated the nation’s legal guidelines require a contract for day labourers — and if no written contract is signed, the legislation considers staff to have open-ended contracts topic to statutory discover intervals and different advantages.

“I have no idea of a single mission anyplace on this planet, not to mention in Senegal, that may signal a everlasting working contract for (low-skilled) each day staff,” Tall stated.

In keeping with the Worldwide Labour Group (ILO), 9 out of 10 staff are in casual employment in Senegal.

Tall and He confirmed there have been two deaths on the UN web site, one linked to an epileptic seizure and the opposite attributable to an accident on web site.

A spokeswoman for a authorities workplace known as the DGPU, which manages Diamniadio’s growth, stated that what occurred on the websites just isn’t its duty.

A spokesman for the United Nations Workplace for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) directed AFP to the UN Resident Coordinator for Senegal, Siaka Coulibaly. He didn’t reply to a few emailed requests for remark.

– ‘Disgrace’ –

Migrants stated they despatched as a lot as half of their revenue residence to their households — and felt responsible once they may ship nothing in any respect.

Mohamed, the plumber, had wished to check enterprise administration however left highschool when his father died.

Now, he can not help his farmer mom and three sisters.

He stated he want to deliver his case to the police, however worries that as an English-speaking foreigner with no paperwork proving his accident, he shall be dismissed.

“If I am going again (residence), I haven’t got something — it might be a really huge disgrace on me,” Mohamed stated.

“A few of my associates have married, some have settled down… I’ve not even bought a girlfriend but.”


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