A day in the life of Tuas View dorm

Thai national Winai Intatkawin (main picture), 39, tidying up a dormitory room he shares with other Thai workers. He works as a foreman in Pulau Bukom. Tuas View Dormitory has communal bathrooms (above) on each floor that are scrubbed by a cleaning c
Thai national Winai Intatkawin (main picture), 39, tidying up a dormitory room he shares with other Thai workers. He works as a foreman in Pulau Bukom. Tuas View Dormitory has communal bathrooms (above) on each floor that are scrubbed by a cleaning crew when the men are away at work. Facilities at the dorm include a gym (above), basketball court, supermarket, food court, shops, movie screenings and laundry service. A fishmonger cutting up fish for dorm residents. Many of the workers can cook, so communal kitchens are available for them to prepare their own meals.ST PHOTOS: NEO XIAOBIN
Thai national Winai Intatkawin (main picture), 39, tidying up a dormitory room he shares with other Thai workers. He works as a foreman in Pulau Bukom. Tuas View Dormitory has communal bathrooms (above) on each floor that are scrubbed by a cleaning c
Thai national Winai Intatkawin (main picture), 39, tidying up a dormitory room he shares with other Thai workers. He works as a foreman in Pulau Bukom. Tuas View Dormitory has communal bathrooms (above) on each floor that are scrubbed by a cleaning crew when the men are away at work. Facilities at the dorm include a gym (above), basketball court, supermarket, food court, shops, movie screenings and laundry service. A fishmonger cutting up fish for dorm residents. Many of the workers can cook, so communal kitchens are available for them to prepare their own meals.ST PHOTOS: NEO XIAOBIN
Thai national Winai Intatkawin (main picture), 39, tidying up a dormitory room he shares with other Thai workers. He works as a foreman in Pulau Bukom. Tuas View Dormitory has communal bathrooms (above) on each floor that are scrubbed by a cleaning c
Thai national Winai Intatkawin (main picture), 39, tidying up a dormitory room he shares with other Thai workers. He works as a foreman in Pulau Bukom. Tuas View Dormitory has communal bathrooms (above) on each floor that are scrubbed by a cleaning crew when the men are away at work. Facilities at the dorm include a gym (above), basketball court, supermarket, food court, shops, movie screenings and laundry service. A fishmonger cutting up fish for dorm residents. Many of the workers can cook, so communal kitchens are available for them to prepare their own meals.ST PHOTOS: NEO XIAOBIN
Thai national Winai Intatkawin (main picture), 39, tidying up a dormitory room he shares with other Thai workers. He works as a foreman in Pulau Bukom. Tuas View Dormitory has communal bathrooms (above) on each floor that are scrubbed by a cleaning c
Thai national Winai Intatkawin (main picture), 39, tidying up a dormitory room he shares with other Thai workers. He works as a foreman in Pulau Bukom. Tuas View Dormitory has communal bathrooms (above) on each floor that are scrubbed by a cleaning crew when the men are away at work. Facilities at the dorm include a gym (above), basketball court, supermarket, food court, shops, movie screenings and laundry service. A fishmonger cutting up fish for dorm residents. Many of the workers can cook, so communal kitchens are available for them to prepare their own meals.ST PHOTOS: NEO XIAOBIN

At biggest dorm here, even toilet cleaning, laundry are provided

It's 10.30pm and some residents of the facility in Tuas South Avenue 1 are preparing to call it a day. On each floor, they wash up in a brightly-lit common toilet that comes with shiny mirrors and 16 shower stalls with doors and spotless floors.

Others are drinking beer outdoors as a breeze wafts in from the Strait of Johor, keeping the 8.4ha compound airy and cool.

Opened in August, Tuas View Dormitory is Singapore's biggest dormitory and a breath of fresh air compared with cramped and dirty housing thousands of foreign workers have to put up with.

The Government is pushing employers to move workers to purpose-built dorms like Tuas View, which have supermarkets, food courts and sports facilities.

The Straits Times reported last week that the Urban Redevelopment Authority has recently stopped temporary dorms - which tend to have poorer conditions - from being built in 12 industrial estates. Non-Malaysian workers from the marine and process sectors, which include the chemicals and pharmaceutical sectors, will also not be allowed to live in HDB flats from next year.

These changes are likely to increase demand for beds in purpose-built dorms such as Tuas View, the first of nine such dorms to be built over the next two years, adding around 100,000 beds to the existing 200,000.

Tuas View has 20 four-storey blocks, housing up to 16,800 workers. For now, it hosts about 5,000 workers in the marine, manufacturing and process sectors.

A dozen of them share rooms of 48 sq m, or 4 sq m per man, higher than the 3 sq m average in other purpose-built dorms here.

An army of operations staff, cleaners and security guards keep the dorm clean and in order.

Mr Charanjeet Singh, general manager of TS Group, which operates Tuas View, said: "Most of the cleaning and maintenance work is done when the workers are out in the day. But we also need to roster security guards and a duty manager 24 hours a day."

Every day about 6am, lorries and buses ferry the men from India, Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, Myanmar and Thailand to worksites.

By 7.30am, the dormitory is mostly empty. Half a dozen staff start washing more than 3,500kg of workers' laundry.

Five industrial-sized washing machines, three pressing machines and seven dryers are used.

The workers leave their soiled work overalls and clothes in the laundry room every day. The cost of the service is included in the average $300 monthly fee employers pay to house each worker at the dorm.

Elsewhere, more than 20 cleaners start scrubbing and disinfecting kitchens, dining halls, toilets and other common areas.

Cleaning the kitchens, on the ground floor of each four-storey block, is the hardest, said Mr V. Ranjan, the dorm's facilities manager. Every night, the floors and stoves are stained with oil, sauce and curry by the workers.

"A team of about four cleaners clears the rubbish and hoses the kitchens down the night before. But imagine the grime left when thousands of guys cook. It's a war zone," said Mr Ranjan, adding that cleaners spend about three hours scrubbing the kitchens.

Most of the workers can cook and they get their ingredients from the dorm's supermarket.

Mr Salaudeen Mohamed Salleh, the supermarket's owner, said his staff serve more than 1,000 workers daily and 3,000 on Saturdays and Sundays.

More than 1,000kg of vegetables such as potatoes, onions and lady fingers and 500kg of chicken, mutton and beef are delivered every evening. Every week, about 2,500kg of rice is delivered.

"Business is very good. Almost all the fresh food is sold out every day," said Mr Salaudeen.

The cleaners and operations staff end their duties about 6pm - when the workers start to return.

After dinner, about 200 workers unwind by watching movies screened in an open field in the dorm. On weekends, the number goes up to more than 1,000. A commercial cinema will open next year to screen the latest films from Bollywood and Hollywood.

There are also sports facilities such as a gym and basketball court, as well as shops selling items such as mobile phones.

Workers can also relax in the beer garden or food court, which both provide free Wi-Fi. Another supermarket, a money remittance shop, a goldsmith shop and two medical and dental clinics will also open soon.

The men say they are happy. Said Mr Feng Xiaoyu, 36, from China: "The rooms are spacious and it is a clean place."

Indian national B. Suryanarayana, 35, said: "We can play football and basketball here. It is good to relax after work."

ameltan@sph.com.sg