A look into the JAAH Investments Housing Scandal

After failing to make any comments regarding these unethical practices by the company towards their workers, yet another set of unethical and illegal waves of accusations followed JAAH Investments. This time, it was not about migrant workers or unpaid wages, it was about scamming people in broad daylight in the name of a housing project.

The COVID-19 pandemic shed light on the treatment of workers by their employers, particularly concerning migrant workers, in the Maldives. Numerous national and international media outlets extensively covered various issues regarding the treatment of migrant workers in the country during this time. Construction companies, in particular, received significant attention, and unfortunately, the situation in the country has not improved since then.

The scandal involving JAAH Investments, previously known as JAUSA Investments Pvt Ltd, caused a significant uproar following the pandemic, shedding light on the deplorable conditions faced by migrant workers in the country. This particular case gained widespread visibility and traction on social media platforms when the construction company's employees took to the streets of Hulhumale' to protest against their unjust treatment.

The protesting workers made serious allegations against JAAH Investments, claiming that the company had failed to fulfil its obligation to pay their wages for the work they had performed. Moreover, they asserted that their fundamental human rights had been violated during their employment with the company. These violations encompassed various aspects, such as poor living conditions, inadequate healthcare provisions, excessive working hours, and a lack of legal protection.

The incident sparked a public outcry as this resonated with a broader concern over the mistreatment of migrant workers, who often find themselves in vulnerable positions due to their reliance on employment opportunities in foreign countries. The scandal not only exposed the unethical practices of Jaah Investments but also brought attention to the broader systemic issues plaguing migrant labour across industries.

This issue not only brought up the topic of how migrant workers were being treated in the country but also diverted the conversation back to the ‘human trafficking’ that takes place in the Maldives. As the workers protesting on the streets claimed that even serving a jail sentence would be better than working for JAUSA Investments not only due to the lack of basic care they are provided with, the construction company was also accused of confiscating the passports of the workers, trapping them in the Maldives and making it impossible to even go back to their country. This is also a major issue which was raised during the pandemic, as many highlighted that this act of holding workers in a country falls under human trafficking. 

“ We've told them to give our passports back if they are not going to pay our salaries. We can go back and be close to our families. They don't pay us, They don't give us our passports” 
one of the migrant workers protesting against the company

After failing to make any comments regarding these unethical practices by the company, yet another set of unethical and illegal waves of accusations followed JAAH Investments. This time, it was not about migrant workers or unpaid wages, it was about scamming people in broad daylight in the name of a housing project. ‘The Gardens’ project, which is still up on the JAAH Investment website is noted as the companies stepping stone into the property development sector, according to their website. With the project being branded as the epitome of luxury and exotic, many fell for this scam by the company, and soon invested in their ‘beautiful future homes’. Three years and hefty borrowings later, those who invested in this futuristic home development project are yet to see any developments as moving into these homes is becoming more of a nightmare than a reality by the day.

Speaking to a local news outlet, one of the victims said that after trusting Jausa and purchasing the home, it still remains an empty ditch and claimed that the money invested by people for their future was used up by the company for their own purposes instead of actually developing the property. While the buyer and many like him continue to pay the instalments on the loan they took to pay the funds for their brand-new homes, the property remains untouched yet they are paying the hefty price for it. 

While the work for these Apartments which go up to more the MVR 7 million was mostly complete, leading to many investing in the property, it appears that there was a halt and the project which was promised to be completed within two months turned into two years and now, for many, it is starting to feel like a fever dream to ever think of actually moving into these apartments. 

In an attempt to get justice, some buyers have also taken the case to civil court with no avail. After several attempts to contact the owner of the company to get answers, only getting his number blocked, the company also failed to show up at all of their court hearings, further delaying any hope for this case actually getting justice. With one of the buyers claiming that there have already been five to six failed attempts at bringing the company to court, to anyone who knows about the mistreatment of the workers it would be blatantly obvious that this is yet another tactic being used by the company as a method of avoiding any accountability. 

With those who have invested in The Gardens project in hopes of getting their apartment calling this move by JAAH a debt trap, the company earlier came out with a statement claiming to start up the work on the project in February 2023. And now that we are close to the end of May 2023, there is still no progress on this project and no progress on holding the company accountable either.

Cases like this, with the public and migrant workers paying such hefty prices for crimes that are taking place so publicly, are a failure not only on the part of the company committing these heinous acts. This is clearly a failure on the part of those responsible for carrying out justice, as the migrant workers never saw a dime of the money that they were owed and those who are now trapped in debts that they might be paying off for the rest of their lives while JAAH continues to get away with this. 

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