They’d rather pay out of their own pocket than share a ‘rumah kongsi’ with 10 men

New Straits Times - - News -



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.


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