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Months after his death, family of Qatar World Cup stadium worker await closure

Published: Updated:

The family of a 23-year-old Nepalese worker who died after falling from a walkway at the $655 million al-Wakrah stadium being built for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, are yet to get closure months after his death.

Tej Narayan Tharu’s family cremated him in the Budhu river, southeast of Nepal. His wife Renuka was carried away after collapsing and wailing in despair. According to The Guardian, she said that they only found out that he died “after lots of calls and digging.”

“The man from the supreme committee said sorry. I asked him how my husband died. He said they were investigating the death,” she said referring to two calls she received from the Manar General Contracting, the company that employed her husband, and one from the supreme committee for delivery and legacy. They reported that three months later, the widow is still waiting for an answer.

The Guardian reported that sources with direct knowledge of the incident said that Tharu was carrying a large board along a 35 meter-high walkway at night when the incident happened.

“He fell off from the walkway … It’s usually considered safe. But people from another company had removed a [floor] plate, creating a gap. He failed to see it and fell through it,” one source told the newspaper.

More than one case

Another source told the newspaper that the stadium environment is riddled with miscommunication and conflict between different subcontractors, adding that they sometimes use sign language to communicate.

Thaku’s wife, and mother of the couple’s four-year-old daughter, said that the contracting company promised her compensation by December, but Nepal’s foreign ministry said this might take a year.

The newspaper cited a similar case that happened to British construction worker, Zac Cox who fell to his death at the Khalifa World Cup stadium in January 2017. His family also struggled to obtain any information about the incident.

His death was blamed on substandard equipment, and a dangerous working environment.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Indian workers in the 2022 World Cup sites are suffering an ordeal in Qatar as they have for six months faced denial of salaries, job losses, the expiry of visas and substandard living conditions in labor camps, according to workers and official communications.

The Hindustan Times said that they are over 600. It quoted an Indian official as confirming that hundreds, among those affected, say there has been no word on their compensation after having worked for eight to 10 years.

“We are now left to the mercy of people who help us on a charitable basis for food. We do not even have electricity in the daytime, but just about manage to get generators running in the night,’’ said S Kumar, who is from Kerala and worked for the firm for eight years.

A compliance monitor had stated that it found workers doing 72 hours per week, which is not normal practice. Reports of laborers working almost 148 consecutive days have also been surfacing.