SCANDAL at Sana’a Municipality [Archives:2000/10/Reportage]

March 6 2000

Continued from page 1

Hassan S. Al-Zaiedy
Yemen Times

Yemen Times launched a field survey to Sana’a Municipality Administration in Asser, after meeting some of the demonstrators and learnt about their miserable conditions, to reflect things on the ground.
We met with the director of the Project Mr. Najeeb Al-Himyary at the gathering of those workers, asking about reasons behind workers’ demonstration, their demands, etc, however, the only answer we got was “The acts happened yesterday were of saboteurs.” He, then tried to avoid our interview by making himself busy using his mobile set, claiming that he had to observe cleaning-up campaigns.
Mr. Abdul Kawi Al-Hosaini was the only official present in the project, though the time of our visit was at the beginning of the office hours. He is the accounting manager of the project. He said “The demonstration of workers just a made-up event for they get all their rights. Regarding the salaries as well as allowances of December 1999, January, February 2000, Accounting lists were presented two days ago to the Cleaning-up Fund which provides the project with annual budget.”Asking him about reasons behind delaying the payroll to this time, he said “The problem lies in the performance mechanism of the project, for it is a public administration related to the Fund which collects the cleaning-up fees charged on shops and companies according to their size; Small shops have to pay a monthly YR 300, other ones YR 500, some YR 5000 and some YR 10000 such as companies.”

Asking about the destiny of all this money, he apologized for not being able to answer this question and said “The President has called for the minister of Constructions and Sana’a Mayor, Husain Al-Maswari and gave them a three day time-limit to settle down this matter.”Then, we interviewed some of the workers to know more about their complaints. We came actually to visualize a real misery. Mr. Mohammed Nagi Marwan, a cleaning-up car driver, spoke on behalf of other drivers, and said ” We are paid a monthly YR 9000 and we have been working here for 8 months, day and night. If anyone of us had an accident or anything like that, repairs were made at his expense. Sometimes we conduct extensive cleaning-up campaigns, however, we do not receive wages for them. We do also work overtime, on Thursday and Friday and during Eid Holidays, however, we receive nothing. When some workers asked for their allowances, some were given about YR 2000, however, they came to find that this money was deducted from their salaries. So far, we have been unable to receive our salaries for three months. If anyone protests, our officials, without any sense of mercy, kick him out at any time they want. We have families and children who need to eat, drink and wear, however, all this is ignored by these officials as if we are not human beings. Now we highly count on the President’s promise and are waiting to see the outcomes of his orders, otherwise we would go out again on a demonstration to the front of the Presidency Building until we get our rights.”

Then some sweepers, wearing dirty clothes, came to complain and said “Why should we be treated differently? We want to be given as they used to give foreigners.”Ali Mohammed Darwish and Omar Ahmad Ali talked on behalf of their colleagues and said “we have never been paid the attention needed. Our officials are not aware of or, in fact, ignoring the problems and diseases that we are liable to. To make our situations worse, we have never been paid for the overtime we work. Some of us stay in streets and sleep there, however, nothing is there to keep us from cold. We are not supplied with uniforms for our work.

When there used to be foreigner sweepers, the ministry and our officials used to pay them in dollars reaching to more than $ 200 for each worker. Besides, they used to make available for them residence, food, allowances, clothes, special uniforms, free health care etc,. However, we are exceptions. Some workers could hardly find some tea to eat their loaves of bread. So where is the sense of responsibility that our officials boast to have upholding. To add insult to injury, we are driven either to prisons or streets in case of any protest.”
Nagi Al-Koraimi and Ahmad Omar, Ahmad Obadi, Khamis Ahmad and Shawee shouted “If we are black, we are also Yemenis like these officials who every time and then boast of serving the country. We want to be officially employed instead of receiving daily wages. They, furthermore, deduct what and when they like from the so called salaries. Yesterday, Al-Marzoki, chairman of syndicate, was arrested and kept in prison as he voiced up and called for our rights.”