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Fun and games part of the package at workers' dorm

PPT Lodge 1B's facilities include a gym, games room and cinema

It is the evening of the third day of the Chinese New Year.

Under flashing coloured spotlights, emcee Happy Feifei gyrates to a Bollywood tune, working up the raucous crowd of foreign workers - mostly from India and Bangladesh.

They clap and laugh, lapping up every joke and antic of the emcee and other performers.

They were at a variety show organised at their dormitory and paid for by the management.

The workers have much more to cheer about besides the free entertainment.

At the PPT Lodge 1B run by S11 Granuity Management, the welfare of residents is a priority.

The brightly-painted dormitory, which can accommodate up to 14,000 workers in 13 four-storey blocks, sits opposite the Marina Country Club in Punggol. The $50 million facility includes a well- equipped gym, games room with pool tables and video game consoles, and a commercial cinema.

The cinema, a collaboration between S11 and Golden Village, screens Hindi and Tamil blockbusters in its two 200-seat carpeted halls, with plush cushioned seats.

DORM WITH A DIFFERENCE

When people think of dormitories, they think of crammed dirty rooms and triple-decked beds. But this doesn't always have to be the case.

MR SYLVESTER HENRY, operations manager of PPT Lodge 1B, where the welfare of residents is a priority.

"Movies are a large part of the Indian culture. That's why we incorporated a cinema," says operations manager Sylvester Henry, 37.

Other amenities on site include a remittance outlet, mobile phone shops, food court, laundry services and a supermarket with products from the workers' home countries.

Every quarter, variety shows and carnival games such as rodeo and dunking machines are brought in to keep residents entertained.

The dormitory's gym, one of its more popular facilities, is packed every evening although many residents would have spent the entire day toiling in the sun.

Mr Wang Xing Sheng, a construction worker from China, said in Mandarin: "My work and lifestyle are different things altogether." The 44-year-old added that just because he has a tough job, it does not mean that he does not want to live well.

This is also the company's approach to running dormitories.

S11 managing director Jonathan Cheah was appalled by the dreadful conditions in worker dormitories when he was working previously as a recruiter in his parents' firm. He felt that he could improve industry standards.

In 2010, he won a tender together with his bushiness partner, Mr Lawrence Lee, to build and run Changi Lodge 2 - a 4,000-person dormitory in Changi. It reached capacity within nine months.

Buoyed by its success, S11 started the PPT Lodge 1B in Punggol. It started operations early last year and is now almost at full capacity.

Operating a 14,000-person dormitory is a herculean task. A staff of 75 staff work round-the-clock to keep it running. "This is a 24/7 operation," said business development manager Adrian Tang, 39.

He added: "The challenge is to find staff who can manage different cultures and nationalities."

Still, the dormitory is convinced of the importance of providing a pleasant living environment for migrant workers.

Mr Tang explains that a pleasant environment will result in better rest and job productivity and safety.

Mr Henry added: "When people think of dormitories, they think of crammed dirty rooms and triple-decked beds. But this doesn't always have to be the case."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2016, with the headline 'Fun and games part of the package at workers' dorm'. Print Edition | Subscribe