‘My life in Brunei was a nightmare. Upon reaching there, I was forced to cut down forest trees with no pay. Later when I fled away, I had to survive on snails. Snails I gathered from the wetlands and supplied them to a local Malay woman who paid me scantily in exchange,’ thus recounted Zakir Hossain of Kishoreganj his days in Brunei to New Age on Thursday.
He said a broker named Nur Mohammad took Tk 3.2 lakh from him promising a gardener job in Brunei with a decent salary and sent him there in October 2017.
Upon reaching there, Zakir discovered that the broker’s promise was a total lie, he said ruefully.
Like Zakir, other returned migrants recounted experiences of misery and misfortune involving the same pattern and the family members of workers currently in Brunei narrated how they passed days under constant anxiety for those staying abroad.
‘Local broker Rezaul sent my brother Aminul Islam to Brunei six months back by pocketing Tk 3.5 lakh, but having reached there, my brother got no job,’ said Brunei-emigrant Aminul’s borther Rabiul Islam of Tangail.
‘Now our whole family is living in worry for my brother,’ he lamented.
On Wednesday, a group of migrant workers back from Brunei and their family members formed a human chain and demonstrated in front of Probashi Kalyan Bhaban, demanding punishment of the brokers who cheated them.
They also submitted a petition to the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment demanding compensations.
Responding to this correspondent’s query, an official of Bangladesh High Commission told New Age that labour exploitation in Brunei was boundless.
He said employment visa guaranteed no job, no legal protection, nor any insurance coverage there while visa trading and passports seizing were rampant.
‘Thankfully, the situation is improving after recent directives from the high officials of the Sultanate,’ he said.
‘Strict measures are needed to protect the remittance earners and to that end, delinquent agents must receive exemplary punishments so that they think twice before deceiving the workers.’
‘This is urgent not just to save the workers but to save our economy as well since the remittance forms its bedrock,’ he added.
Brunei has been recruiting workers from Bangladesh since 1992 and as of now, 30,000 Bangladeshi workers are working there, according to the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training.
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