SINGAPORE: An illegal dormitory in Geylang housing up to 44 men was raided by officers from the Minstry of Manpower's (MOM) last Thursday (Jul 6), the Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC) said in a Facebook post on Monday.
It was discovered following a call to MWC's helpline by a migrant worker.
MWC's ops team, along with MOM inspectors, found the men housed in a four-bedroom apartment, which was reconfigured to fit seven smaller rooms using thin wooden partitions.
"The resultant tight and cramp rooms and artificially created narrow corridors between pose serious fire-safety and crowding issues for occupants, and is exactly the kind of practice that can result in serious accidents or loss of life," MWC said.
There were two small toilets and one kitchen for common use, but residents were cooking within their partitioned rooms as it took too much time to queue for the kitchen stove.
The unit also had "tell-tale signs" of cockroach and bed bug infestations, according to MWC.
"The overcrowding, partitioning and obvious overuse of on-site amenities like electrical, water and gas points created serious health and safety issues to the occupants of the unit, and it was abundantly clear that immediate action was necessary," MWC added.
Workers living there did not report the living conditions to authorities for fear of reprisals from their employers and being left without a place to live, the non-governmental organisation said.
The Manpower Ministry is investigating the matter and has ordered employers of the occupants to relocate them to properly appointed and approved housing immediately, MWC said.
"We have urged the authorities to take stern action against the wrongdoers to send a strong message of deterrence to those who exploit dignity and welfare of migrant workers in this manner," MWC added.
The centre also urged migrant workers who face similar housing issues to alert the MWC for assistance. It can be contacted at +65 6536 2692.
MWC said it will respond swiftly and ensure that the worker's identity is protected at all times.