Government asks Singaporeans to reject NIMBY mindset as it overhauls foreign worker housing

02-Jun-2020 Intellasia | Yahoo News Singapore | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Foreign worker housing is set for a major overhaul lasting for years as the government urges Singaporeans to keep an open mindset about the issue.

At a virtual media conference on Monday (1 June), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Ministry of National Development (MND) announced that the government will be putting in place “a major programme to build additional dormitories with higher standards over the coming months and years”.

The ministries called on Singaporeans to do their part as well. “Given our land constraints, some dormitories will inevitably be located closer to residential areas…We must reject the Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) mindset and instead appreciate these workers who keep Singapore going.”

In addition to expanding capacity to house migrant workers, the authorities are developing a set of specifications for these new dormitories. “The specifications will look into the design, facilities, management and regulation of these dormitories, and will factor in social interaction and disease response needs.”

They will take onboard lessons learnt from the current COVID-19 pandemic, and also seek feedback from relevant stakeholders, the MOM and MND said.

Purpose-built dormitories

Currently, many foreign workers are now being housed in temporary facilities, which need to be returned to their original uses or redeveloped. At the same time, they cannot head back to their old dormitories. Hence, additional space needs to be created.

The government said that by the end of the year, it will be able to create additional space to house around 60,000 workers.

This will be achieved through the following:

New Quick Build Dormitories (QBDs) that will last for around two to three years. These are temporary structures that can be constructed quite quickly in a modular form with a low density, with each QBD housing about 500-1000 workers per ha, depending on the site conditions. The QBDs will have around 25,000 capacity in total.

Sites where QBDs will be built include those Kranji Way, 1 Tuas Ave 2, Tuas South Ave 10, Jalan Tukang, Admiralty Street, Choa Chu Kang Grove, Choa Chu Kang Way and Tampines Industrial Ave 2.

Temporary fitting out of currently unused state properties, including former schools and vacant factories. These will have around 25,000 capacity in total.

Additional Construction Temporary Quarters (CTQs) built by contractors to house their workers at the worksite and cut down on transportation needs.

A set of new standard will be piloted at the new QBDs including providing for bigger living space. “Depending on subsequent assessment of effectiveness, scalability and sustainability, adjustments may be necessary for permanent new dormitories.”

Ultimately, “we are planning for new purpose-built dormitories (PBDs) to house up to 100,000 workers to replace the short to medium-term housing”, the ministries said. “This new building programme will take several years to complete, but we aim to have about 11 such new PBDs ready over the next one to two years.”

Besides improving dormitory living standards based on domestic and international benchmarks, the government said that it is also studying the possibility of developing the new PBDs on a different model compared with the present system currently, land is released for commercial operators to bid, build or operate.

The new and improved housing arrangements will come at a cost, the agencies said. “But they will keep the workers safe and allow Singaporeans to continue benefitting from their contributions.”


Category: Singapore

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