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Joint MND-MOM Media Release on New Dormitories with Improved Standards for Migrant Workers

  1. With the COVID-19 situation at the dormitories under control, and more migrant workers recovering or being cleared to resume work, the Inter-agency Taskforce (ITF) is now working with dormitory operators and employers on the housing arrangements for these workers.
  2. For the time being, some of these workers have been housed in sites like army camps and sports halls, as well as vacant HDB blocks and private apartments slated for redevelopment.  These sites are temporary and will need to be returned to their original uses or redeveloped soon.
  3. At the same time, we do not want all the workers to return to their original dormitories, as our aim is to reduce the density of these dormitories. Hence, the Government will be putting in place a major programme to build additional dormitories with higher standards over the coming months and years.

    SHORT- TO MEDIUM-TERM ARRANGEMENTS

  4. By the end of this year, we will be able to create additional space to house around 60,000 workers. This will be achieved through the following:

    a) 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 hectare, depending on the site conditions. The QBDs will have around 25,000 capacity in total. (Refer to Annex 1 for list of locations)  

    b) Temporary fitting out of currently unused state properties, including former schools and vacant factories. These will have around 25,000 capacity in total. (Refer to Annex 2 for list of locations) 

    c) Additional Construction Temporary Quarters (CTQs) built by contractors to house their workers at the worksite and cut down on transportation needs. We are still discussing with the contractors on the additional CTQs that they will need for their workers.

    LONGER-TERM ARRANGEMENTS

  5. Beyond this, we are planning for new purpose-built dormitories (PBDs) to house up to 100,000 workers to replace the short- to medium-term housing. 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.  All of these PBDs will have amenities like minimarts, barber services, indoor recreation facilities and will have blocks well spaced out to ensure good ventilation. Workers living in the PBDs will also have ready access to medical care and support.
  6. With these additional PBDs in place, we will also have the capacity to decant workers from the existing dormitories, and to undertake major upgrading to these dormitories to ensure that they meet the new standards. 

    IMPROVED STANDARDS AND DORM OPERATING MODEL TO BE PILOTED

  7. In addition to expanding capacity to house migrant workers, government agencies 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.
  8. In land scarce Singapore, dormitories are a practical approach to housing our migrant workers. We aim to make dormitory living and design more resilient to public health risks including pandemics, with improved living standards that are benchmarked both domestically and internationally. We will take on board lessons learnt from the current COVID pandemic, and also seek feedback from relevant stakeholders.
  9. As a start, we will pilot an improved set of standards at the new QBDs.

     Standards  Current Improved 
    Living space ≥ 4.5sqm per resident, including shared facilities ≥ 6sqm per resident, not including shared facilities 
    Occupancy per room  No maximum beds per room. 

    In practice, 12-16 beds per room. Mostly double decker beds
     
    ≤ 10 beds per room. 

    Use of single deck bed only, with 1m spacing between beds 
     
    Toilets ≥ 1 set of toilet, bathroom, sink and urinal: 15 beds ≥ 1 set of toilet, bathroom and sink to 5 beds
    Sick bay and isolation facility ≥ 1 sick bay bed per 1,000 bed spaces

    Additional isolation spaces (to be stood up if needed) at 19 beds per 1,000 bed spaces
    ≥ 15 sick bay beds per 1,000 bed spaces

    Additional isolation spaces (to be stood up if needed) at 10 beds per 1,000 bed spaces
  10. The Government is also studying the possibility of developing the new PBDs on a different model compared to the present system, where currently land is released for the commercial operators to bid, build or operate. We are studying the options comprehensively and will share our findings in due course.
  11. While the physical standards are being improved, it is equally important to uplift the capabilities of dormitory operators and make adjustments to the daily living habits of the dormitory residents.  Everyone must do their part to minimise the risk of infection clusters. The pilot will therefore also seek to instil a new level of discipline on safe living within dormitories.
  12. We can expect that these additional and improved housing arrangements will come at a cost. But they will keep the workers safe and allow Singaporeans to continue benefitting from their contributions. This is why the specifications and operating model are being piloted. Depending on subsequent assessment of effectiveness, scalability and sustainability, adjustments may be necessary for permanent new dormitories.
  13. Given our land constraints, some dormitories will inevitably be located closer to residential areas. Singaporeans must therefore do our part too. We must reject the Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) mindset and instead appreciate these workers who keep Singapore going.