!Read Between the Lines! "Two Egyptian workers die at Heritage Village construction site, al-Watan Daily

The following is an article from the Al-Watan Daily today.  This is actually quite sad because I have been excited about the Heritage Village Project opening up.  Little hints of negligence are peppered throughout.  Why were the workers not being supervised so that more help would be readily available?  In this kind of heat, especially, there should be people monitoring in case of faintness, dehydration or other "scorching"-temperature related health problems.  How did they "slip"?  Why is the Al-Watan Daily so quick to assume that "verry little could be done"?

KUWAIT: Two Egyptians, aged 27 and 32, died Saturday morning under the sands of the Heritage Village project site opposite Souk Sharq. After one of the workers slipped into a sinkhole, the other laborer tried to rescue his compatriate, but bother were engulfed by the hole, buried within the scorching sands almost immediately. Firefighters, paramedics and police officers were rushed to the scene, but there was very little they could do for the pair.

What is the difference between the time of the accident and the time of the phone call?  This can be achieved through a temperature reading of the bodies to determine the time of death.  Again, this article is truly sad in that the heroism of the other worker who died is completely underreported.

Informed sources say that a call was received at 9:30 am at the Operations Room Saturday regarding the accident, which prompted security forces to rush to the scene where they found one of the two men completely covered by the sand, while the other partially covered.

How much of a gargantuan amount of sand could there have been to require so much time?!  If so, then this is an operation that would have required much more assistance than just that of the two men!  Or was it assumed by the rescue mission that they were most likely already dead so in reality they took their time?  If the company has the equipment to unload such a huge amount of sand, they do not have a quicker ability to sift through it?

The rescue operation required digging, searching, rescuing and lifting them out of the sand. The rescue forces needed two hours to lift the first body out, while the second body required the assistance of police dogs to locate it in order to lift it out. The rescue operation took in total five hours. The Criminal Evidences Department was summoned to refer the bodies to the Forensics Department.

Minister of State for Municipal Affairs Dr. Fadhil Safar stated that an investigation will be performed to determine the reasons behind this tragic accident.  "The contracting company will be held responsible and measures will be taken against it for not placing sand supporters and for not following safety procedures," he said.

Why can't the contracting company be named in the article?  Is this not a main way of holding them responsible?  The first thing a representative from the Municipality does is wash its hand clean!?  What kind legal relationship is there?  The rep is unclear.  Where WAS THE municipality's assigned observer for THIS project, which is a huge undertaking aimed at reviving historical tradition?  I have the feeling that the Municipality must have been pretty involved in the project from the beginning for this reason.

He went on to explain that the Municipality "is not responsible for this accident, since the project was given to the company according to tender conditions and bylaws."  He added that the Municipality assigns observers for such projects, "but such accidents are unpredictable and occur quickly."

Moreover, Chief of the Technical Rescue Center Lieutenant Colonel Hamad AlـHadlaq announced that the reason behind this accident is "the mismanagement of the contractor, who should have followed safety measures, especially since another worker was digging while the two deceased were standing at the edge of the hole, which led to the tragic accident."  He held the contractor responsible for the lives of the victims.

How exactly is the contractor to be held responsible?  Why can no names be given and what will be the compensation for families...many of these question I know are simply rhetorical.  All these sorts of articles on worker-related deaths need to be looked at with scrutiny and not taken for face value.  If no one does, then how can pressure be put on complacent contractors and the people who condone them?

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