SINGAPORE: A total of 8,000 migrant workers will be housed in seven new Quick Build Dormitories (QBDs) that have improved living conditions, with eight more such dorms to be built by the second half of next year.
The latest facilities, which are located at Kranji, Admiralty and Choa Chu Kang, began operations about a month ago.
QBDs are part of efforts by the Government to improve living standards in migrant worker housing. The newly built dormitories will pilot some new standards to make dormitory living more resilient to public health risks like COVID-19.
Westlite Kranji Way, a 1,300-bed QBD, has more spacious rooms. Each room has five single beds spaced at least 1m apart. In a typical dormitory, 12 to 16 workers sleep on double-decker beds.
The rooms also come with an ensuite toilet, shower and sink. Excluding these shared facilities, each worker has around 6 sq m of space.
Fifty-year-old Mr Yang Sheng Li, a construction worker from China who moved from a Woodlands dormitory to Westlite Kranji Way three weeks ago, said he appreciates the extra space.
“The toilet is great, there’s a toilet per room. It’s more hygienic. In the past, the rooms were very crowded. Now it’s more spacious and comfortable,” Mr Yang said.
Residents will also be able to use larger communal spaces. Dedicated kitchens and dining areas accommodate groups of 30 to 40 residents each.
Amenities such as a minimart, canteen and gym are also available within the compound.
More single-bed sick bay rooms have also been included, at 1.5 per cent of bed capacity. A red zone sick bay area has also been designated for residents who test positive for COVID-19.
National Development Minister Desmond Lee, who was at the facility to observe the new design, stressed the importance of increasing living spaces for migrant workers.
"The Quick Build Dorms are one of the measures to help keep the construction sector on its feet and that is the de-densification of living spaces. Our guest workers live in dormitory-style living.
"These are places where there (is) high risk of infection. Therefore de-densification as well as appropriate safe living measures are actually quite important," he said.
At the dormitory, residents are segregated into smaller bubbles and restricted from inter-mixing between bubbles. These different groups have separate walking paths, and will use different pick-up and drop-off points for transport to work.
Temperature scans and sanitisation at the facility’s entrance are also strictly observed, as are measures such as regular routine testing.
Around 340 workers have moved in since the dormitory began operations about a month ago. Full occupancy is expected by the end of the year.
QUICK BUILD DORMS A TEMPORARY MEASURE
QBDs, which come in a modular form with a low density, can last for about two to three years.
Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng said that the specifications built into these facilities will serve as a guide for more permanent solutions.
"In the interim we still would need to build more permanent structures that's catered to a more ... long lasting type of structure so that our migrant guest workers can operate and live out of," said Dr Tan.
"We will also endeavour to work with existing dorm operators to see how they can upgrade their facilities and continue the de-densification process."
Eight more QBDs will be ready by the second half of next year, bringing the total capacity to 25,000, according to the National Development Ministry.