KUALA LUMPUR: The Works Ministry and Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) are weighing the possibility of building a central accommodation for construction workers.

The facility would serve as a measure to address the challenges of contractors in providing a clean, conducive and safe living environment to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Senior Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof in a statement today said the matter was discussed in a virtual engagement session with 30 construction industry associations, leaders and representatives recently.

It was stressed workers accommodation must meet with the National Security Council’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act (Act 446).

Fadillah said the ministry viewed seriously the Health Ministry’s findings on the many Covid-19 transmissions that took place at cramped and filthy workers accommodation especially in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

“The ministry has instructed CIDB to immediately address this problem which had been identified as the cause of the Covid-19 infection chain.

“One consideration is to construct central workers accommodation, which is seen as a step to resolve the problem of contractors in providing the living space per Act 446.

“The challenges they (employers) face are limited space in construction sites, the high construction cost as well as the long wait to obtain approval from the local authorities.

“CIDB with the related agencies such as the Labour Department as well as industry players have been asked to study and propose a suitable local to build the workers accommodation, which could be rented out to contractors.”

Fadillah also said transportation services to facilitate commute to the workplace must also be provided.

“(It was decided to make it) compulsory for the use of private transportation for the workers when going to work to deter them from mixing with the community while using public transport.

“To fulfil the transportation needs, industry players have suggested the use of school buses and this effort will be able to assist operators who have no income.

“Contractor must also provide an isolation facility for positive workers, those with symptoms, Patient Under Surveillance and Person Under Investigation at another location to stop the infection of others at the site.”

The session also saw six resolutions made on adhering to strict SOP at project sites and closure of a site upon a breach of SOP and upon detection of positive Covid-19 cases.

Fadillah said it was also agreed that RTK Antigen Covid-19 tests would be conducted on workers biweekly. He said the government would look into the possibility of subsidising or providing full coverage of the cost.

The ministry had also ordered CIDB to conduct more site inspections and take stricter action against errant contractors.

“Aside from the instruction to close a site, CIDB has been urged to take disciplinary action against a contractor by imposing a penalty or suspending or cancelling the contractor’s registration,” he said.

During the Movement Control Order from Jan 13 to Jan 24, Fadillah said CIDB checked 320 construction sites nationwide where 286 were found to be compliant.

The five others were ordered to shut and served with stop-work order notice, as it did adhere to the SOP such as providing suitable accommodation, physical distancing and wearing of face masks.

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