Ministry seeks residents’ understanding on workers’ dorm

The National Development Ministry has said the location of temporary dormitories is limited by the available choices of vacant state buildings.

It tries to avoid housing foreign workers in residential areas and seeks residents’ understanding and support if some dormitories are located near their homes.

The ministry said this in response to Channel NewsAsia’s query after residents of Serangoon Gardens expressed unhappiness that a vacant school in the estate may be converted into a foreign workers’ dormitory.

Since last week, a petition has been making the rounds in the quiet neighbourhood. So far, over 500 residents in the private estate have signed the petition.

They are against turning the vacant school building on Burghley Drive into a temporary dormitory to house about 1,500 foreign workers and plan to raise this issue with their MPs on Wednesday during a dialogue session.

If approval is given and the plan goes ahead, the dormitory is likely to be a self-contained community, with shops and other social amenities. Authorities said this would minimise the impact on the neighbourhood.

However, residents are unlikely to be convinced, many of whom live just across the road. Traffic congestion and security are among their concerns.

One resident said: “Most of my neighbours are very old and they live alone. So security is a big issue if they house it here.”

Another resident said: “It would be a disaster here. Thousand-over workers, can you imagine?”

Residents are hopeful that the authorities will take heed of their views.

MP for Aljunied GRC, Lim Hwee Hua, said: “I’m not surprised by the reaction, and I think the concerns raised are valid. What I’ll do is look at the feedback, add my own views as an MP looking after the area.”

Mrs Lim added: “The social issues are a little trickier. Obviously, you can’t expect the foreign workers to be just confined to the site itself. So if they’re housed there, they’ll be coming out onto the park space, and mixing with the residents.

“This is not a problem by itself, but I think the residents are thinking of the social aspects, such as whether there’ll be the wrong kind of relationships formed between the domestic helpers and them. These are harder to address but they are concerns we should listen to.”

The authorities said they are still reviewing the suitability of the site and no decision has been made yet.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 3 Sep 2008

Join The Discussion

Compare listings