Unused commercial buildings away from housing schemes may be converted into worker dorms


Aerial view of Bayan Lepas FIZ

Looking at the grave Covid-19 situation, the Penang government is ready to help expedite applications to turn vacant commercial buildings (away from housing schemes) into worker dormitories and also help expedite the application process to set up temporary worker dormitories at factory grounds.

State Local Government, Housing, Town and Country and Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said there were presently 15 applications – two from the island and 13 from the mainland – for the establishment of worker dormitories.

He said three quarters of the new clusters in Bayan Lepas came from the industrial areas.

“We need to up the ante to ensure that the foreign worker dormitories are sited in proper liveable conditions that are contained and controlled,” Jagdeep told a press conference after conducting a standard operating procedure (SOP) compliance check on the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Pulau Tikus today.

“Otherwise this Covid-19 pandemic will continue.

“To build a dormitory will take a normal process of three years or four years. Because of that, Penang has a new approach. We are looking at unoccupied commercial buildings which are far away from housing schemes.

“The whole idea is to get them (foreign workers) out of housing schemes so that they can be controlled in a certain area, but in very good living conditions.

“So, we have two ways. One is to find commercial buildings which are far away from housing schemes. There are now quite a number of unoccupied commercial buildings, especially during this Covid-19 period. And we assist by entertaining applications for conversion into commercial lots for dormitory purposes.

“The second way is that we are considering applications from those big factories which have available land at their plants to build temporary worker dormitories.”

Jagdeep said two worker dormitories had so far been built in Penang, one in Batu Maung and the other in Bukit Minyak, catering to 6,221 beds.

He added that seven other schemes were ongoing which would provide a total of 61,918 beds while two more applications to provide a total of 10,700 beds, were in the process of consideration.

“In all the 11 schemes, we would have a total of 78,839 beds. But this is not enough. In Penang, we have about 200,000 foreign workers and we have not even reached 50%. We still got a lot of work to do,” Jagdeep said.

On the SOPs at the church, Jagdeep said he was satisfied with the measures taken and their compliance rate.

“It’s very unfortunate that the church doors have to be closed, just like other religious bodies. Only 12 people are allowed to be at the places of worship during this MCO.

“We all need to pray together as a family to win this war over Covid-19. This virus does not care what your religion is. We need to pray hard and overcome it.”

Jagdeep also called upon Penangites who have not registered for vaccination to do so and also urged the Federal Government to expedite the supply of the vaccines to all states.

Later, Jagdeep presented some 100 packets of essential items to Penang Eurasian Association president Datuk Aloysius Gasper for them to be distributed to their members during this challenging time.

Also present at the press conference were Pulau Tikus assemblyman Chris Lee Chun Kit, and police representatives and Penang Island City Council (MBPP) enforcement officers.

Source: Buletin Mutiara

  1. jjchun
    June 6th, 2021 at 17:13 | #1

    I still see a lot of banglas working for mamak restaurants and building contractors renting and staying in normal residential strata projects. If the state gov thinks they pose a contagious disease risk, why is that allowed?

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