VIJAYAWADA: In response to a report published in these columns on the plight of 18 people from Andhra Pradesh stranded in Rabigh city in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has facilitated their return to Vijayawada on a flight from Jeddah under the Vande Bharat Mission. The flight arrived in the city late Wednesday night.
The 18 hail from Visakhapatnam, Krishna and Prakasam districts. The workers had been stranded at Rabigh for almost a month after India announced a lockdown.
One of them, T Punnasekhar, an engineer from Vijayawada, approached TNIE on May 17, after which a report was published and the issue was brought to the notice of Additional Secretary, MEA, AP, P Harish.
Punnasekhar had lamented that despite several attempts to register on the MEA and other websites handling the repatriation process, they did not receive any response.
Harish passed on the details of the 18 people to the Indian Embassy in Riyadh and the Consul General. On May 18, Harish requested the Embassy to accommodate the workers on the flight scheduled to depart from Jeddah for Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday. Consul General Jeddah Noor Rahman Sheikh arranged to get the 18 workers on the flight.
Upon reaching Vijayawada, Punnasekhar told TNIE: “We just landed and are on our way to get screened. Thank you very much for helping us. We were running out of money and were worried if we would be able to buy tickets. But your help and the Indian Embassy’s quick arrangements helped us save money on our flight tickets.” The group went to Saudi Arabia on February 15 and was working for the Gulf Quality Control Company. Their work ended on April 30.