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Illegal escapes over Dh 400,000 in fines

Pardoned man cautions illegal status goes against those hoping for odd jobs

Image Credit: Supplied
Kunjan Soman
Gulf News

Dubai: An illegal resident for 11 years was spared from paying over Dh400,000 in fines after he made use of the amnesty period declared by the UAE government to go back home.

Kunjan Soman, 60, who came to the UAE in 1999, is one among the many such illegal residents who were able to go back to their home countries without paying hefty fines for violating residency laws.

“At this age, I am going back home empty-handed…at least I can be with my wife, children and my grandchildren.”“I don’t have enough words to thank the kindness of the Dubai government,” he said.

Soman spoke of the conditions illegal workers have to live and work in, and how they are often cheated out of their rights because they do not have the support of the authorities.

“If someone has a choice they wouldn’t be staying illegally. I think if people get salaries on time then no one would turn illegal.”

He came to Dubai as a painter at a maintenance company and the company was running well, he recollected.

“Problems began when the brothers of my employer got involved in company operations.”

“Apparently there was lot of mismanagement of funds, which eventually led to crisis situation and we stopped getting our salaries on time.”

The situation further deteriorated and they stopped paying altogether, Soman said.

The workers approached the Indian consulate for help. “For six to eight months, the consulate provided us with essential foodstuffs.”

“But how long could we stay on without work and without being paid?”

That’s how he ended up taking odd jobs illegally, he said.

“People cheat illegal workers by employing them and not paying them what they initially promise.”

“They know they can get away with paying meagre amounts because we are desperate and we cannot lodge any official complaint.”

Each time he asked for his dues, they would promise to pay up on a different date, he said.

On average, he only managed to find work 10 to 15 days every month. His expenses included Dh700 for food and accommodation.

Sending money home for his children and his wife was not possible regularly. But sometimes he managed to do so.

Regardless, he is happy to go home now.

In a similar case, fines of over Dh400,000 were waived off for a Bangladeshi man who was living here illegally for the past 12 years, a Bangladeshi consulate official disclosed. He came to the UAE in 2000, but absconded from work shortly after. He too made use of the amnesty to finally head back home.

The two-month long amnesty period ends on February 4.