MOM investigates case of overcrowded living quarters in Sengkang worksite

MOM officers visited the site of The Topiary EC (above) following a tip-off that foreign workers were living in cramped quarters in its basement carpark. A Shin Min report said some 200 people were crammed into 10 makeshift rooms (right).
MOM officers visited the site of The Topiary EC (above) following a tip-off that foreign workers were living in cramped quarters in its basement carpark. A Shin Min report said some 200 people were crammed into 10 makeshift rooms (right).PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES, SHIN MIN
MOM officers visited the site of The Topiary EC (above) following a tip-off that foreign workers were living in cramped quarters in its basement carpark. A Shin Min report said some 200 people were crammed into 10 makeshift rooms (right).
MOM officers visited the site of The Topiary EC (above) following a tip-off that foreign workers were living in cramped quarters in its basement carpark. A Shin Min report said some 200 people were crammed into 10 makeshift rooms (right).PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES, SHIN MIN

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is looking into a case of foreign workers living in cramped quarters in the basement carpark of an unfinished project in Sengkang. The temporary quarters on the worksite of The Topiary executive condominium in Fernvale Lane were found to be overcrowded.

"The preliminary inspection findings suggest that the actual occupancy at the workers' quarters has exceeded the capacity limit," a spokesman said.

MOM officers conducted an inspection on May 4, following a tip-off.

A report in Shin Min Daily News said that some 200 workers were crammed into 10 makeshift rooms formed using wooden partitions. Conditions were said to be deplorable, with mosquitoes and rats in the area, the report added.

The quarters have makeshift toilets but there are no cooking facilities, so workers eat food that is catered.

Occupants told The Straits Times yesterday that conditions had improved following MOM's inspection.

"Last time, there were 22 to 25 men in each room, but now there are around 16 people," said a worker from India, who requested anonymity.

He estimated that 100 workers are still living there, with many having moved out in the middle of last month.

The double-decker beds have also been converted to singles, the workers said.

Employers are allowed to house workers on worksites in some cases.

MOM, together with other relevant agencies, are investigating those responsible for the quarters, a spokesman said.

The Government takes such cases seriously, he added, and workers' accommodations must comply with regulatory standards such as those concerning fire safety, public health and hygiene.

Errant employers will also be barred from applying for new work passes or renewing existing work passes.

Last year, MOM took action against more than 1,400 employers over violations of foreign worker housing conditions.

adrianl@sph.com.sg