Adequate workers’ housing is basic requirement, says construction group

KUALA LUMPUR: Poor living conditions of construction workers is affecting the productivity and sustainability of the entire industry, said the Construction Industry Development Board Malaysia (CIDB).

“We are paying a lot in terms of health costs. Under these conditions, workers can easily get sick,” said CIDB Chief Executive Datuk Ahmad Asri Abdul Hamid.

“And in terms of the industry, whenever workers get sick, you lose man hours.

“To me, this (adequate workers’ housing) is a basic requirement for (construction) companies.

“If you expect productivity from these workers, then you must do your part to provide them with conducive living and working environments,” he said, adding that developers and contractors need to look at the industry’s sustainability.

Ahmad Asri also noted that poor living conditions and low wages would put most local workers off the construction industry, which is not ideal in the long term.

“It’s easy (for construction companies) to go for the cheaper option – bringing in foreign workers and placing them in kongsi – but the effect is that it limits the participation of local workers,” he said.

“Locals won’t accept that salary and those working conditions.”

Ahmad Asri described his feelings when visiting workers’ housing simply as “sad”.

“You see the toilets, and the way they have to share rooms – which is not much of a room to begin with – and it’s terrible. Some sites are good, but others are in very poor condition.”

Through its Construction Industry Transformation Programme 2016-2020, CIDB plans to encourage the use of centralised labour quarters (CLQs).

CLQs are large dormitory complexes built to house migrant workers, complete with basic amenities like dining halls, kitchens.

The target is to have enough CLQs and enforce its use throughout the industry by 2020.

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