Ghana's government is sending a delegation to Qatar to investigate allegations that Ghanaians recruited to work in that country are being maltreated. Efam Dovi has more on the story for VOA from the Ghanaian capital Accra.
The allegations are being made by a group of Ghanaians who left in September to work in Qatar's booming construction industry. Under an agreement between the two countries, 800 Ghanaians are to work in Qatar. So far, 550 people have been recruited, 250 of whom are already in Qatar.
However, barely two months into their stay in Doha, some of them have being phoning Ghanaian radio stations complaining about their living conditions and saying that their wages have not been paid.
Ghana's minister of manpower, youth and employment, Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Saddique, says the government is taking the allegations seriously. He says a delegation led by his deputy will leave for Qatar next week to assess the working conditions of the Ghanaians.
"I'm getting a technical team, including the press, to go and see the environment under which these people are working, what has prompted this problem, whether it is actually true that they've been sent there to be extorted or exploited, that will be proven," he said.
Some of the Ghanaians in Qatar also say they are unable to leave the country because their passports were seized by the agency that recruited them.
However, the minister said his preliminary investigations showed the passports were taken so the agency that recruited them could process their work permits. The minister said the recruiting agency in Qatar, Al Jabar, and its local partners, Rahman consultancy, were properly investigated before the exercise began.
"We do what we called due diligence check. It is carried out first and foremost by the ambassador [who] has a team, a technical team that will do the necessary investigations to know exactly the company, whether it is a good going concern, and that we can rely on the company, all these checks were carried on it," noted Abubakar Saddique. "The actual company, Al-Jabar, is one of the biggest companies in Qatar. [We have] carried out a due diligence check on them. Apart from that we have [Ghana's] national security that also carried out [a check] and advised me that I was dealing with a genuine company."
Alhaji Saddique told VOA other companies in Qatar, including an Italian construction firm, have all expressed interest in recruiting workers from Ghana. He said the questions arising now about the conditions of Ghanaian workers is a serious concern to the government and will be thoroughly investigated.
But the Accra government is also interested in maintaining the employment program with Qatar. Unemployment is high in Ghana, and work programs such as the one in Qatar are important because they provide employment to young Ghanians.