How fewer migrant workers means challenges beyond the construction sector

The mynahs pecking at scattered rice grains from open garbage bags were startled and flew away when the lift door opened.

Open food packets and fried fish heads strewn around the public rubbish chute area were the first things someone stepping out of the lift would see at this Housing Board block in Tampines North.

Residents told CNA that it is a problem they have lived with for a few years now, although the issue of cleanliness at the ward was only recently highlighted in Member of Parliament Baey Yam Keng’s (Tampines GRC-PAP) social media posts.

Mr Baey said on Facebook last weekend (May 28) that about 60 per cent of the new Tampines North cleaning contractor’s migrant workers could not enter Singapore to start work due to tighter border restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The cleaning contractor is therefore facing severe manpower shortage and operational challenges,” Mr Baey wrote. “The 40 per cent migrant cleaner staff strength are doing their best to keep our common areas clean.”

A few things have compounded the problem, said Mr Baey. Residents staying at home more have been chucking more garbage, and COVID-19 safety measures mean that cleaners have to disinfect common areas like lifts, playgrounds and fitness corners more frequently.

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