As part of its continuing crackdown on absconding and illegal workers, Qatar officials have rounded up nearly 200 unlicensed taxi drivers in sweeps at malls, hypermarkets and the airport, QNA reports.
More than a hundred street vendors have also been detained, as well as some 64 runaway workers doing odd jobs at winter camping sites across Qatar. “Action has also been initiated” against those who employed them, the Ministry of Interior said.
The department explained it is taking a hard line on unlicensed vendors to protect consumers from buying food and goods that haven’t been quality-tested. It has also previously warned that it is unsafe to ride in the vehicles of unlicensed drivers and employ runaway workers for fear of theft.
But the crackdown has been criticized by some Qatar residents who say the government should question why the labor law was broken instead of simply punishing people for breaking it.
According to one recent study, for example, 86 percent of workers interviewed said that their employers illegally retained their passports.
Absconding workers face up to three years of jail time and QR50,000 in fines, but all those who were detained have been referred to a special court that could order immediate deportation or recommend a change of sponsorship.
Previously, the MOI has said a person who gives shelter to absconding workers or employs him or her is liable for imprisonment and payment of a fine ranging from QR20,000 to QR100,000.
The Peninsula translates:
The Search and Follow-Up Department has said its crackdown against illegal workers, including those operating private taxis in breach of the law, will continue.
No place will be spared and swoops will continue to be launched to comb out all kinds of illegal workers, whether they have escaped their sponsors and are living and working in the country illegally or those vending and operating cabs in violation of the law, the department said.
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