MUSCAT: The Consumer Protection Administration in Dhofar has arrested 16 expatriate workers for converting a part of farm land to wash and dry clothes for commercial purposes.

According to a press release, the administration had received complaints on the quality of services provided by laundry shops in the area.

“Customers had complained about the presence of fungi, bacteria and chemicals in clothes delivered by the laundry shops.” After investigations, the administration found that several laundry shops had outsourced their work to these labourers who had built washing facilities on farm land to make money. After obtaining permission from the Public Prosecutor, officials from the administration raided the farm and arrested 16 expatriates.

“Workers used to collect clothes, blankets and carpets from laundry shops and then bring them to the facility for cleaning. The washed laundry would be dried in an adjacent area.” The raid resulted in the seizure of chemicals used to clean clothes. Ali Salim al Basrawi, manager, Consumer Protection Administration in Dhofar, said, “These workers had rented a farm land and illegally built concrete structures to wash clothes, carpets and blankets.

“These workers violated rule 3 of the Consumer Protection Law which prohibits trading of goods or provision of a service without meeting health and safety conditions or obtaining licences/approvals from concerned authorities.”

Basrawi said that approval for such licences is based on the condition that there would be no use of chemicals that could harm the soil and affect the environment. “There should also be no discharge of detergent water in an open area as it can damage soil.”

Basrawi also warned of the dangers of adding chemicals to clothes leading to skin diseases and allergies. He said that the administration has asked consumers to choose only those laundry shops which maintain health and hygiene standards.