Living conditions in dormitories better since COVID-19 but more improvements needed, say foreign workers

Living conditions in dormitories better since COVID-19 but more improvements needed, say foreign workers


Mr Faruk, who also stays in Sungei Tengah Lodge, said things are “very good” and common areas are cleaned every day except Sunday.

But he said his room, which has six double-decker beds for 12 residents, is not very big and that there is “not enough space”.

Sungei Tengah Lodge is one of the biggest dormitories in Singapore, with beds for about 25,000 workers in 10 residential blocks. Residents share communal toilets and kitchens.

Westlite Mandai dormitory has units that can each accommodate up to 16 workers. Mr Faraji, who stays in one of these units, said having 16 people in the bedroom was too many.

Some of his roommates have moved out, so there are currently 10 people in his room, which is better, he said.

In 2021, the Ministry of Manpower said most dormitory rooms had 12 to 16 residents “in practice”. 

Crowded dormitory rooms were highlighted during the pandemic, when workers were often confined to their rooms as the virus spread rapidly among residents. With dormitories locked down, some communal facilities were closed.


Workers also said they rely on using mobile data to stay connected because the Wi-Fi cannot reach their rooms.

Westlite’s management said the surfing speed in the dormitories is 5Mbps (megabits per second), which is comparable to [email protected] – a free wireless broadband service in public places in Singapore.

“We monitor the bandwidth and access regularly and have required our Wi-Fi service provider to install additional boosters where needed,” said Mr Kong.

Complimentary Wi-Fi is offered in communal areas in Westlite dormitories, but a subscription is needed for Wi-Fi in the units.

Another complaint is that catered food in the dormitories is not up to standard. A worker who stays in a factory-converted dormitory said the catered food is not healthy or tasty.

“It’s too … oily, sometimes the food is spoilt,” he said, adding that his dormitory does not have cooking facilities and there are no canteens nearby.