ABOUT 75 per cent of Bangladeshi workers were illegally sent to Brunei in 2018 by the middlemen with the connivance of immigration police at the airport. Because of a strong control of the middlemen over Bangladesh-Brunei recruitments, Bangladesh may lose the job market in Brunei permanently, as senior officials at Bangladesh high commission in Bandar Seri Begawan fear. Bangladeshi workers were allowed to migrate to Brunei without having their visas attested by the labour wings of the Bangladesh mission there. The officials also say that the middlemen sent the workers without any clearance of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training. Rackets of middlemen are active in Bangladesh and Brunei, controlling labour migration from Bangladesh by providing bribes and resorting to other illegal means. The chief of the Bangladesh mission in Bandar Seri Begawan requested the expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry to take steps to stop such migration.
What is more worrying is that thousands of fake visas have been created for Bangladeshi workers, as the letter says referring to Brunei sources. In view of what is going on, workers frequently lodged complaints with the Bangladesh mission’s labour wing in Brunei that they were cheated or denied their wages and many of them did not even get jobs after landing in Brunei. What is deplorable is that since August 4, the Brunei mission in Dhaka has temporarily stopped accepting Bangladeshi worker visa applications as some companies in Brunei have hired thousands of workers colluding with unscrupulous middlemen in Bangladesh. These middlemen are cheating the laymen from remote districts alluring them with fake jobs abroad as there is no information available in districts on safe migration. Most of these people strive hard to scrape together the amount required to meet the expense of migration, selling their property, even homesteads. But they fall victim to swindling by recruiting agencies and middlemen and many of them end up as paupers. There have been stories of young workers spending whatever savings their families had to pay unscrupulous middlemen only to find their hopes cruelly belied. Others realised, upon landing in faraway lands, that they were been cheated and the jobs they had been promised were not to be had.
As remittances from migrant workers, which was about $15.5 billion in 2018, remain a mainstay of the economy, the government must open offices in remote districts to make prospective migrant workers aware of the process. The government must also streamline the manpower export sector by dispensing with middlemen and taking stringent measures against unscrupulous recruiting agencies to ensure that the workers are not exposed to frauds and job markets abroad are not lost.
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