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Nigerian expatriate stuck in UAE narrates his plight, seeks help

Pascal Oparada

A Nigerian expatriate in the United Arab Emirates, Felix Uzoho, has cried out for help after he lost his job with KEO, a leading consulting and architectural firm in the Middle East.

Uzoho, who worked with KEO from 2005 to 2010, said he has not been able to leave the UAE or secure another employment because the company had placed an absconding and travel ban on him.

In an email to the Chief Executive Officer of KEO, which was seen by The Nigerian Xpress, Uzoho said he also stands the risk of being driven out of the apartment given to him by the company as he can no longer afford to pay the money as agreed with KEO due to his unemployment status.

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In the detailed email, Uzoho said he had secured other lucrative jobs that would have made it possible for him to offset his rent, but because he has not been able to renew his work permit due to the ban placed on him by KEO, he couldn’t take up the offers.

“Unfortunately, I have not been allowed to work since 2010. It is the church and some locals that have given me some support in UAE over this period.

“Although I received offers from AECOM Saudia in 2012, a package of SaudiRiyals SR63,000 per month) to manage Jedda Municipality Assets), I could not depart UAE for that new employment offer that I signed in 2012,” he said.

According to him, he had proposed other projects to KEO since he was unceremoniously sacked by the company in order to offset his debts, but KEO isn’t budging.

He had also engaged with the company from 2012 to 2019 to start another project but has not been able to make any headway.

“I have also asked for special permission to work for KEO, even on short term assignments to develop Facility Management and Asset Management Expertise or similar, around MENA and Africa,” he stated.

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Although Uzoho’s plight is a rift between him and his former employers, it echoes the struggle of migrant workers left stranded and struggling in the Gulf States.

Uzoho’s plight has been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, which has made it harder for him to find temporary shelter.

Reuters reports that charity workers are scouring the United Arab Emirates for empty buildings and Bahrain is repurposing closed schools to rehouse low income laborers from overcrowded accommodation, a hotspot for the coronavirus outbreak in the Gulf.