MANY PREFER TO RENT THEIR OWN PLACE
They’d rather pay out of their own pocket than share a ‘rumah kongsi’ with 10 men
FARHANA SYED NOKMAN
AND FAREZZA HANUM RASHID KUALA LUMPUR email@example.com
EVERY morning Alanur, 27, wakes up on the mattress of his one-man home at 7am. He takes a quick bath in front of his house from a 750-litre water tank, which he shares with 15 of his neighbours.
He picks one of the four shirts hanging on the wall, pulls on a pair of jeans and rubber boots. A yellow plastic helmet completes his daily “uniform”.
He will stop by at the neighbourhood sundry shop to grab a bite before heading out to the construction site where he works from 8am to 7pm.
Alanur is content with this daily routine. It is simple and minimal, and better than staying at the construction site, where workers have built their own lodgings, known as rumah kongsi.
“I used to live there but it was very uncomfortable, with one rumah kongsi of 24 sq m shared among five to 10 people.
“There were no mattresses. You have plywood to sleep on and if you want comfort, you have to use your own creativity,” he said when the New Straits Times visited him at his rented house recently.
Alanur’s house is the size of three toilet cubicles. Although it is made mostly of wood, it provides him more comfort and privacy than a rumah kongsi. He even has a small television.
“Those of us who decided to move out of the rumah kongsi had to look for our own place and we found these small houses, where each person pays RM100 monthly,” he said, adding that he had been staying there for 10 months.
Alanur is one of the hundreds or more Bangladeshis working at one of the many construction sites in Bangsar here.
Their “neighbourhood” in Kampung Kerinchi is nothing like those of the affluent societies they live among.
With many locals having already moved out because of the massive Bangsar South development, the area is mostly inhabited by Bangladeshi construction workers.
Piles of rubbish can be seen on both sides of the road as one walks up the narrow street leading to their makeshift houses. Flies and mosquitoes were also everywhere.
Their roofs are rusty zinc while the walls, windows and doors are made from old or leftover plywood from construction sites.
Bangladeshi Mohamad Rubel Hossein, 20, said living in the rumah kongsi brought on many problems like thefts and quarrels.
“There are just too many people in such a small space.
“There are always water shortages. We could not even cook or sleep in peace and there’s the risk of construction objects falling on us.”
Rubel, who had been living in one of the houses near Alanur’s for four months, worked from 8am until 10pm, sometimes up to midnight, and only goes home to sleep for a few hours before sunrise.