Singapore—A number of unoccupied HDB blocks in Redhill Close are serving as the temporary homes for healthy foreign workers employed in essential services. Eight such blocks are already in use for this purpose, with 13 more being prepared as well.
According to the National Development Ministry, preparing accommodation for essential foreign workers away from their dormitories is of utmost importance so that they can keep on working in such industries as cleaning and maintenance, TODAY reports.
A statement from the Ministry reads, “We will continue to monitor the situation and activate other locations if needed, to provide alternative accommodation for workers.”
The foreign workers to be housed in the three-room flats in the designated HDB blocks will be transferred there in stages, depending on when the accommodations are ready for their occupancy. The blocks had been part of the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, wherein older housing buildings were being redeveloped and their occupants had been moved to newer ones.
The estate, which has 878 units in all, had been unoccupied for more than one year. MP and Minister of State for Social and Family Development, Sam Tan, had announced via a circular that refurbishment of the old blocks is ongoing for the purpose of providing housing for essential migrant workers.
This is a move to accommodate these workers separately from those under quarantine, as a precaution to ensure they stay uninfected. Mr Tan said, “This will keep them safe from the disease, which will in turn keep us safe when they are working in our midst.”
He added that the foreign workers would be staying in their flats except when they leave to go to work in their company’s vehicles or to buy what they need, since, like everyone else in Singapore, they will be observing the recently-implemented “circuit breaker” measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Minister also appealed for residents of the area to show the workers support during this difficult time.
To maintain order, Police and Certis officers will be on standby in the area.
TODAY reports, however, that some residents have expressed concerns with the proximity of the foreign workers to their own flats, especially with the number of elderly living around Redhill Close.
It quotes resident Melissa Azmi as saying, “I have my grandfather at home and my mother. My son is three years old. I’m just concerned. Even though they house healthy foreign workers here, we will never know right?”
Many netizens seemed to be relieved that the HDB blocks would be put to good use, since the issue of poor housing for migrant workers has recently come to light.
Some of them had “NIMBY” or Not-In-MY-Backyard syndrome, where people’s fears and self-protection come into play.
Others said that temporary shelters would be better.
However, some people commented asking if the workers were really healthy, bringing up the point that they maybe asymptomatic carriers.
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