Comfortable living quarters for construction workers

The guarded facilities are furnished with all the amenities needed for the safety and comfort of workers

By DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Three out of eight centralised labour quarters (CLQs) set up by the government are ready to house construction workers throughout the year. The other five will be completed by the fourth quarter of 2020.

This move by the government, set under the quality, safety and professionalism strategic thrust for the Construction Industry Transformation Programme, is to drive improvements in the living conditions of the construction workers.

The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) via its subsidiary — the Construction Labour Exchange Bhd (CLAB) — launched its first CLQ in Shah Alam yesterday.

CLAB’s gated-and-guarded self-sustaining residential facilities furnished with all the amenities needed for the safety and comfort of the workers will be the first of its kind in the country.

The building, which is located in Shah Alam, was pre viously utilised by Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Corp Sdn Bhd during the construction of the MRT line.

Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof (picture) said the CLQ is one of CIDB’s measures to help cope with the industry’s growth, as well as the influx of foreign workers.

“The government is trying to resolve the horrible living conditions of foreign workers in this sector because one of the main catalysts driving the country’s economic growth is the construction industry,” said Fadillah, speaking to reporters during the media briefing at the CLQ launch yesterday.

The 144-room lodgings which sleep six per room will be housing 864 workers — all come equipped with a surau, a cafeteria, kitchen, sport facilities, an assembly area, a sun- dry and laundry shop, as well as a sick bay.

“These facilities are especially conducive for construction companies, and we hope companies as well as the factories located within a 10km or 20km radius can and will make use of them.

“These accommodations are not only for foreign construction workers, they are also for the local workers as well,” he said, adding that the rental rate would be minimal as long as it covers the operational cost.

Fadillah believes that it is an effort worth undertaking, seeing that in 2017 the local construction sector raked in about RM170 billion.

CLAB is currently in talks with Penang Development Corp and Putrajaya Corp to oversee the construction and operations of two new CLQs located at Batu Kawan, Penang, and Putrajaya this year.

“We have been focusing on providing CLQs in states that have more developments, which means more workers. However, we are also planning to set these facilities in Penang and Putrajaya.

“The quarters in both said locations will be ready to be accommodated this year, with no stipulated date,” he added.

The government mandated CLAB to manage all requests from construction companies in 2009 that required a maximum of 100 foreign construction workers for their projects.

Through the 34,800 applications from construction companies, CLAB has success- fully managed to place 174,000 construction workers in the industry.

CIDB has been working closely with the Ministry of Human Resources, in regard to the amendment of Act 446, or the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990, that only covers mining and plantation workers.

“There is Act 446 stipulating that only plantation companies must provide living quarters for their foreign workers.

“So, developers and contractors do not have any definite guideline to follow,” Fadillah said, adding that nobody has the authority otherwise to penalise the unscrupulous ones.

The amendment will be tabled during the next parliamentary session, with hopes that it is passed by the end of this year.