Following the outbreak of COVID-19 cases in migrant worker dormitories, more people were aware of the living conditions these workers have been exposed to. Videos and photos were circulating on social media, showing how the Punggol dormitory was crammed with migrant workers and unhygienic and unhealthy environment.
The S11 Dormitory @ Punggol was reported to have poor hygiene as the kitchens were infested with cockroaches, toilets were overflowing, and rubbish bins were flooded with garbage.
Since then, the dormitory at Punggol had been gazetted by the Government as isolation areas to prevent COVID-19 from transmitting further into the public.
A Singapore-based Japanese YouTuber, Ghib Ojisan, posted a video to his YouTube channel yesterday (14 April), showing a phone conversation between him and his Bangladeshi friend who is currently under quarantine at a Punggol dormitory.
Just like other Singaporeans who are currently isolating in their homes, Mr Ghib was worried about his friend who may be at risk of contracting COVID-19. Therefore, he video-called him to check on his situation.
In the video, Mr Ghib explained that the current situation of the dormitories that many migrant workers crammed in a single room. He texted his Bangladeshi friend if he was wearing any face masks, the migrant worker replied that he isn’t because his company advised to only wear masks when he or she is ill.
The Bangladeshi worker told Mr Ghib that “everything is okay”, and he mentioned that the Singaporean government had already provided food and drinks for them who are isolating in the dormitory. He stated that the WiFi provided is free-of-charge as well.
An interesting comment he gave on the food was that he preferred Indian and Bangladeshi food over Chinese. He would only resort to Chinese food when the canteen ran out of Indian and Bangladeshi options.
When asked if he’s required to work, the migrant worker revealed that all work had been halted and he still gets to receive the full amount of salary from the Government.
On the contrary, he mentioned that his home country, Bangladesh, would not have paid salary for their workers if it was the same situation. The worker stated that Singapore is also generous for providing all necessities.
He continued to tell Mr Ghib that all his colleagues and friends are “happy” about the current situation, and he praised that the Singaporean government is doing the right thing.
Although his family had been worrying about him and asking him to return home to Bangladesh, the worker said that he can’t go home at the moment because the borders are closed.
During the call, he was standing outside of his room and everyone one is sheltered in their rooms with only a few people seen walking on the corridor. The Bangladeshi worker mentioned that there are twelve people living together in his dorm, while some other companies allocate eight or ten people in one room.
In regards to the cleanliness of the dormitory at Punggol, the worker told Mr Ghib that his place was fine and cleaning was done three times a day.
Seeing how his Bangladeshi friend is doing well at his dormitory, Mr Ghib is glad and he promised to bring his friend out for Japanese food after the COVID-19 storm.
It is indeed heartwarming to see how people care for the migrant workers regardless of culture and background.