Pudong offers housing solution for migrants

By Wang Hongyi and Zhang Kun (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-10 06:48

A new apartment building designed to provide homes for blue-collar migrant workers in the city welcomed its first residents recently.

Located in the Jinqiao Export Processing Zone of the Pudong New Area, the Shenda apartment building is owned and operated by the Shanghai Pudong government. It is the first of two such blocks planned for the area.

With a total floor area of about 10,000 sq m, the Shenda will be home to some 2,200 workers from the Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group in Shanghai.

Each room is available to rent for not more than 100 yuan per month.

The building features a restaurant, reading room, entertainment room with table tennis tables and a movie room. There is also a yard area where residents can play basketball.

Work on a second apartment building in Pudong's Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone began in April and will be completed by the end of the year. It will have capacity for 2,800 workers.

Chen Xiaohua, an official with the land office of the Shanghai Pudong government said: "We have been planning this development since the end of 2006 with the aim of solving migrant workers' housing problems."

The areas in which the new apartments are located are home to several shipbuilding yards, which traditionally employ large numbers of migrant workers. However, in the past, the only available accommodation was of low quality.

Chen Jun was one of the first men to move into the new Shenda building.

"I'm a migrant worker from Jiangxi Province and have been living in dorms for the past two years", he said.

"Six of us lived in one little room, so you never had any space of your own."

As well as being known for their poor living conditions, many of Shanghai's workers' dormitories have bad safety records, with several having suffered fatal gas-poisoning accidents. They are also a common cause for complaint among the local community.

According to the Shanghai Weekly, many of the dorms are simply conversions of basic apartments, with the rooms sub-divided to accommodate the maximum number of people.

Even kitchen areas are fitted with bunk beds to help squeeze as many as 15 people into a three-room apartment, the newspaper said.

The only advantage of the dorms is that they are cheap to rent and are generally convenient for work, it said.

"These dorms have many safety risks," Liu Zhengdong from Junyue Law Firm told the Shanghai Evening News.

"But there are so few rooms available in the downtown areas of Shanghai."

Chen Xiaohua said the Pudong government was planning to build more apartment buildings for blue-collar workers in the future.

(China Daily 07/10/2007 page5)

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