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Rumour of worker’s death triggers riot in Oman

Security forces in control after rampage near under-construction airport

  • By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau chief
  • Published: 14:19 August 3, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit:
  • Workers of contractors for the Muscat Airport Project run riot Rampaging workers damage company vehicles and property at the labour camp PHOTO:COURTSEY
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Muscat: A group of workers at a workers’ accommodation ran riot late on Thursday evening causing extensive damage to property and vehicles inside the premises. The accommodation is mainly for workers employed by a consortium that has undertaken the Muscat Airport Project.

“The rioting was triggered by a rumour of a worker’s death at the company clinic,” a worker told Gulf News on the condition of anonymity, adding that he was not sure whether a worker had actually died.

He added that the workers involved in the disturbances mostly hailed from northern states of India. “Even south Indian workers faced the ire of these rampaging workers,” the worker said.

He said that the workers from south India were targeted since most of the staff at the clinic, including a nurse, were south Indians.

Pictures obtained by Gulf News shows cars overturned, windscreens smashed, AC compressors badly damaged and broken glass strewn around the camp site, which is located very close to the much-delayed Muscat International Airport Project.

Another worker claimed that security forces fired in the air to disperse the agitated workers. “Then the whole campus was plunged into darkness and even till today morning there’s no power supply,” he added.

As the disturbances continued, a strong posse of security forces rushed to the camp site and took control of the situation. “I don’t think any arrests have been made but all the workers were told to go to their respective rooms,” a worker revealed.

A spokesperson for the consortium handling the airport project said it would issue an official statement about the incident on Saturday after an internal inquiry and assessment.

The workers hired by the consortium for the airport project have gone on strike twice this year demanding higher wages and better working conditions.

The ‘enabling work’ of the new Muscat International Airport, for which construction started in 2006, has been delayed for various reasons including two tropical cyclones.

The government is hoping to complete work on the airport project by 2014.

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