Government not providing food for sealed construction worker sites causing mass desperation

Workers in lockdown are not being given food by the government as was promised causing a desperate situation in construction camps, volunteers told Thai Enquirer on Thursday.

“I have been to 11 camps and none of them are being helped,” said Neeraj Trirongaubon, the owner of Tum Tum Somtum Pattaya (Sathon branch) and a representative of a food donation network.

“They cannot work, they do not have money, so they cannot buy food. We need to help them,” he said by phone.

In an effort to stop the spread of the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus, the Thai government locked down construction worker camps in Bangkok and surrounding provinces on June 28.

Military personnel have stood guard over some of these construction sites to ensure that no one gets out. The camps are sealed by government order until the end of July.

The government said that it would pay half the wages of the workers and that food and water would be provided as well.

“100 per cent of the places that we have visited are not getting food and water from the government,” Neeraj said.

Around 80,000 workers live in these camps, and most of them are migrant workers.

Many Thai workers left before the lockdown and returned home but there are few alternatives for migrant workers.

“Most of the Thai workers have left and some migrant workers have left before the lockdown, but the majority of the migrant workers have nowhere else to go to and they cannot go back home because they cannot travel between provinces,” said a Thai contractor who is in charge of two working sites in Bangkok on the condition of anonymity.

A contractor said about 700-800 workers worked at the sites before the lockdown. There are now 450 workers, of whom 90 per cent are migrant workers.

“For the two sites, the project and I are paying half-half for the food but it is not enough,” he said.

“I heard that this is also happening at other sites, and I am very lucky that food donations are bringing food to help my workers because I cannot afford to pay for all of them,” he said.

Broken promises

The contractor also said that the promised 50 per cent wages will only benefit those covered by the Social Security System, whereas most Thai and migrant employees are not covered.

At the same time, migrant workers are not being tested for Covid at the two sites.

“Only Thai workers have been tested during the proactive testing here, but they have not tested the migrant workers,” the contractor said.

“I want the government to help the migrant workers because if we do not have them, Thailand will find it very hard to build anything because Thai people do not want to do this kind of hard labor anymore,” he said.

To help those in need, please follow the social media of Thammasat Relations (#โครงการข้าวกล่องน้อยTU), Food For Fighters, Socialgiver and Covid Relief Bangkok.

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