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Sembcorp Marine has ‘taken note’ of feedback on hygiene and quality of food served to migrant workers in Jalan Tukang

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SINGAPORE: Sembcorp Marine has taken note of the feedback on the hygiene and quality of food served to the migrant workers employed by the company, it said on Thursday night (Oct 14).

Responding to CNA’s queries about the Ministry of Manpowers (MOM) investigation at the Westlite Jalan Tukang dormitory on Wednesday, the company said in a statement that it has issued reminders to the food caterer on strict adherence to hygiene standards.

The company is cognisant of the diverse food preferences of migrant workers from different cultures and has been working closely with the caterer to continuously cater to the differing needs of the individuals, the statement read.

In a Weixin article, migrant workers said they found insects in their catered food. (Photo: Weixin)

On Wednesday, MOM sent its officers to investigate allegations about breaches of COVID-19 health protocols, a lack of access to medical support and the poor quality of catered food at the dormitory.

Policewere also deployed, with dozens of police officers inprotective gear, along with otherswearing red berets.

When CNA arrived at the dormitory on Wednesday afternoon, there were four Special Operations Command vehicles and several other armoured police vehicles parked along the road outside.

The allegationswere published in an online article on Weixin, the domestic version of WeChat used in China.

In the article, disgruntled workers shared photos of insects and hair they found in their food.

Migrant workers quoted in the Weixin article said some of them who were COVID-19 positive slept outside their rooms to protect their room-mates. (Photo: Weixin)

Photos of long queuesand workers being transported out of the dormitory also surfaced. Some workers quoted in the article said they slept outsidetheir rooms after testing positive for COVID-19, to avoid infecting those they shared a room with.

Centurion Corporation, which operates the Westlite Jalan Tukang dormitory, confirmed on Thursday that the transfer of COVID-19 cases from the dormitory to recovery and healthcare facilities was delayed.

This was due to a spike in infections among SembCorp Marine workers, the dormitory operator said.

In its statement earlier on Thursday, the operator said it wanted to provide “context and clarity” to claims made in relation to SembCorp Marine workers living at the dormitory.

The dormitory has a capacity of 3,400 beds, of which 40 per cent – about 1,400 beds – were occupied by SembCorp Marine workers, said Centurion on Thursday.

Sick workers transported out of the Jalan Tukang dormitory. (Photo: Weixin)

“Over the past week, there has been a spike in cases detected among SembCorp Marine workers. Due to the large numbers, there have been delays in conveyance to recovery facilities and healthcare facilities,” the operator said in the statement.

Centurion has been working closely with MOM’s Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) Group to “overcome the logistical challenges posed by this recent increase” in COVID-19 infections, it said.

All the cases have been taken to the appropriate care or recovery facilities, and the ACE Group has deployed a mobile medical team at the dormitory, said Centurion.

The dormitory operator isfollowing the mandatory COVID-19 health testing and movement protocols, and it hasbeen working closely with the relevant authorities, said Sembcorp Marine in its statement.

The company is mindful that the current protocols in Singapore may not be apparent to the residents in the Tukang Dorm, and may differ from COVID-19 management measures from their home country, thestatement read.

In this regard, the company, jointly with ACE and Westlite, have been on the ground providing clarifications and assurance to the residents on such measures.

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