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Jammed like sardines: 66 foreign construction workers stay in a house good for only 8 people, construction co fined S$257,000

Shi, Chen, and Genocean Enterprises Pte Ltd, were sentenced under the Planning Act for converting private residential properties (PRPs) into a workers’ dormitory without planning permission

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Singapore’s State Courts sentenced 48-year-old Shi Baoyi (Shi) with a fine of S$70,000 while 55-year-old Chen Ming (Chen) was fined S$48,000 under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), for housing foreign workers in overcrowded conditions.

Shi is a director of Genocean Enterprises Pte Ltd and Chen is a director of Genocean Construction Pte Ltd.  Additionally, Shi was fined a further S$52,000 under the EFMA for providing inaccurate information in the Online Foreign Worker Address Service system and false information to the Controller of Work Passes. The said company has also been barred from hiring foreign workers.

On top of the aforementioned penalties, Shi, Chen, and Genocean Enterprises Pte Ltd, were sentenced under the Planning Act for converting private residential properties (PRPs) into a workers’ dormitory without planning permission. They were fined S$15,000, S$12,000, and S$60,000 respectively.

Crammed in filthy living conditions

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During the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) investigations, it was revealed that Genocean Enterprises Pte Ltd rented two adjoining PRPs at Lorong 14 Geylang in January 2015 on a 12-month tenancy agreement.

Inspectors found that bed spaces were added to accommodate additional FWs in the PRPs. A total of 66 FWs were found residing within the premises, which resulted in the PRPs being extremely jam-packed with crammed and unsanitary living conditions.

Moreover, from July to August 2016, Shi had consented for his company to house another 15 FWs in another overcrowded PRP located at Geylang Road. The poor living conditions of the PRPs affected the well-being of the FWs.

The two PRPs exceeded the occupancy cap of eight unrelated persons, and were converted into workers’ dormitories without the necessary planning permission from URA. Investigations also revealed that Shi, Chen, and Genocean Enterprises had converted a third PRP at Lorong Kismis into an unauthorised workers’ dormitory from June to July 2015.

Shi likewise submitted a false address to the Controller of Work Passes between August and September 2016 for 12 FWs. He also failed to update the addresses of another 40 FWs between March and April 2015.

Close monitoring of Foreign Worker Housing situation in PRPs

Ms. Jeanette Har, Director of Well-Being Department at MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division, commented, “MOM will continue to take stern action against irresponsible employers who disregard workers’ safety and well-being by housing them in overcrowded and unacceptable living conditions. Together with other agencies, MOM will intensify our inspections on PRPs and send a strong signal that employers must look after the welfare of their workers.”

In another recent case, two companies – Broadley Dormitory Management Pte. Ltd. and Broadley Electrical Pte. Ltd. were convicted on 25 February 2019 under the EFMA for housing foreign workers in dormitories with overcrowded, poor and unsafe living conditions. They were fined S$300,000 and S$60,000 respectively.

Mr Timothy Lee, Director of URA’s Development Control Department, added, “Converting private residential properties into illegal dormitory accommodation not only affects the well-being of the occupants, but has an adverse impact on neighbours and the surrounding community.

URA will not hesitate to take action against any party who blatantly disregards regulations, and will continue to work with partner agencies to conduct joint inspections on suspected illegal workers’ dormitories.” /TISG

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