Labourers decline work as aid flows in flood-hit Pakistan

December 1st, 2010 - 3:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Dec 1 (IANS) Labourers are shying away from taking on work in flood-hit areas of Pakistan due to the deluge of free aid, said a media report that pointed out when an NGO distributed shovels and sickels, the implements were promptly sold in the market.

Dawn reported Wednesday that free aid has resulted in shortage of labour in the affected areas and caused problems for those who are reconstructing or intend to rebuild their damaged houses.

A revenue official in Punjab province’s Muzaffargarh district said that when they wanted to build the first model village near Khangarh, there were no labourers available as most of the workers were busy in collecting aid.

Before the flood ravaged the region, a labourer’s wage was Rs.200 per day, but now they were demanding Rs.350 to Rs.450 a day with two meals and a tea break.

Nazeer Bhatti, who would work as a labourer, told the daily that during the last three months he had done no work as he was busy collecting free rations being distributed by donors and non-government organisations among the flood-hit and then selling the stocks in the market.

He claimed he had stocks of flour, pulses, ghee and sugar and added that when there was a shortage of sugar in the country, he had 20 kg of sugar stored in his house, which he had got from NGOs.

Ijaz Ahmed, a contractor, said he was working with Turkish NGOs to provide labour for their projects and was finding it difficult to arrange workers who were demanding Rs.350 to Rs.500 for a day’s work.

He said those wanting to rebuild their houses were facing labour shortage as most workers had been engaged by NGOs who pay more.

When some Turkish NGOs distributed shovels and sickles to farmers Sunday, the aid-recipients sold these tools at hardware shops for Rs.500 each.

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