Leading the way in Ethical Labour Management amidst COVID-19

Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

by Adam Anand Row

As construction industries worldwide struggle to evolve and adopt new best practices and operational models in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, MMC-Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn Bhd (MGKT) continues to lead in the safe and ethical management of worksite labour.

To this end, a new Centralised Labour Quarters (CLQ) is being constructed at Sungai Buloh, adding to the existing four which house tunnel workers.

Providing humane and safe accommodation for our foreign labour workforce has always been the company’s priority. Thus, the COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity to further push the industry forward in terms of CLQ standards and design.

The team worked tirelessly through the Movement Control Order (MCO) to fast track submissions to the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA), so that construction could begin immediately, using pre-fabricated container units to shorten building time.

Hygiene, Cleanliness, and Low-Density, these three concepts have been incorporated into the design of the new CLQ.

With a total capacity of 1056 people, the CLQ is divided into four sub-sections, each housing up to 240 persons.

Each sub-section contains all housing amenities and facilities for self-sufficiency if isolation is required.

It also features a dedicated isolation/quarantine complex with a capacity for up to 96 people which is the first-of-its-kind for Malaysian CLQs.

Goh Chee Young, Acting Project Director, Underground Station Department at MGKT shared some insights on the new CLQ, “We were already ahead of the curve with the establishment of the Cochrane CLQ in 2013.”

“However many of our workers had been sharing housing across different projects and worksites at an extremely high density (20 persons staying together in some instances) to save costs,” he said.

“Under these conditions, it’s obvious that workers paid little attention to their own health, safety and hygiene due to various reasons,” explained Goh.

Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

“Comparatively, with the new Sungai Buloh CLQ we can maintain a limit of four persons to a room, which is significantly lower than the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) standard.”

“Ultimately, we aim to house 100% of our project workers in project CLQs. Controlled environments allow for better management of their hygiene, health and safety for easy contact tracing in the event of a disease outbreak like the COVID-19 pandemic,” shared Goh.

Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

Location of the new CLQ (marked in red) which spans eight residential and four quarantine blocks.

“Transitioning our foreign labour workforce to be fully housed in CLQs is not without its challenges, but these are being managed and dealt with and are outweighed by the overall larger benefits of being prepared in case of any eventuality.”

“Moving forward we want to be an employer that can make a difference in the lives of our workers. Thus, we believe fully equipped and well-managed CLQs are the solution, as we adjust to the ‘new normal’ of the world today,” Goh added in closing.