No Hard Feelings After Life Under Saudi Bridge

The Jakarta Globe

Even after being forced to live under a bridge in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, some Indonesian workers repatriated by the government on Friday said their experience hadn’t been all bad.

Zaenab, 34, from Sumedang in West Java, said she was happy to be home but still had plans to return to Saudi Arabia.

“I earned 800 riyals [$213] a month and it was a lot of money,” she said. “I was lucky to have a good employer.”

Zaenab ended up living under the bridge because she sent all her money home and had none left when her 28-month contract expired.

She was one of 336 Indonesian workers repatriated by the government on Friday — the second batch this week.

Hundreds of Indonesian workers were found to have been living under Kandara bridge in Jeddah after overstaying their visas and encountering problems related to their employment contracts.

The Indonesian government paid for the workers’ flights and the remainder of the trip back to their respective hometowns.

Another worker, Halimah, 50, said she had no plans to return to Saudi Arabia, but not because of any bad experiences she had there.

“I think it’s time for me to rest,” she said.

“The five years were a good experience. I earned 1,200 riyals a month, and my children have been going to university. I am now tired of working as a cleaning lady. I miss my family and I want to be with them.”

Anis Hidayah, director of Migrant Care, reminded the government that the work of solving the problem was not finished yet.

“It is easy to bring them back home, but will [the government] investigate the reason why they were under the bridge in the first place?” she asked.

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