COVID-19: HDB explains online video of foreign workers housed in multi-storey car park

Foreign workers being housed in multi-storey car parks in Singapore. (PHOTO: Screengrab from video/Facebook)
Foreign workers being housed in multi-storey car parks in Singapore. (PHOTO: Screengrab from video/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — The Housing Development Board (HDB) has responded to online videos of foreign workers being housed in multi-storey car parks, saying that these are temporary measures and that the premises are “safe and liveable”.

In a post put up on its Facebook page on Saturday (11 April), HDB said that some of its contractors have been temporarily housing healthy migrant workers at unused void decks and multi-storey car parks of different sites, where projects are currently under construction.

“These are completed structures that are safe and liveable,” it said in the post.

“All premises are checked to ensure that the living condition is airy and comfortable, with conveniences such as toilets, charging points, and wifi provided for all sites. We have also catered meals for the workers according to their dietary requirements.”

Makeshift beds in car park

HDB’s post came after a video was being circulated in social media, showing foreign workers moving into makeshift double beds in what seemed like a multi-storey car park.

Netizens questioned whether such housing has proper sanitary facilities and safe distancing measures, especially as several foreign workers dormitories have been isolated due to the spread of COVID-19 amid the premises.

HDB has assured the public that the health and safety of everyone is of “utmost importance”.

“Safe distancing measures, such as no visitation to other levels and temperature screening twice a day, have been put in place,” it said in its Facebook post.

“The workers will be staying within the site, and only designated workers are allowed to leave the site to purchase essentials from nearby grocery stores.”

MOM aware of such measures: Josephine Teo

Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo also put up a post on her Facebook page on Saturday, saying that her ministry is aware of such measures taken by HDB.

“A number of friends sent me a video with (foreign workers) in makeshift accommodation that appears to be a multi-story car park. Thank you all for your concerns. It was indeed disturbing,” Teo wrote in her post.

“Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and HDB colleagues followed up as soon as they could... The workers’ well-being is the priority here.”

Teo said that a dedicated team will be stepping up inspections at smaller dormitories. While these dormitories have been inspected regularly, Teo said that more resources are needed to ensure the workers’ well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The MOM team is fighting the battle on many fronts – job security, business viability, wage/leave issues, manpower surplus/excess in different areas, loss of income by self-employed, concerns from employers about domestic workers and vice versa – a long list,” she wrote.

“My team is stretched to the limit. Please bear with us if we take some time to respond to all of your queries, as we give priority to calls for help by vulnerable individuals.”

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