Middleman to blame for rent owed, says firm

Middleman to blame for rent owed, says firm 

By Alvin Lim 

 

THE company whose 167 workers were locked out of their Joo Chiat quarters last Wednesday says it does not owe the landlord any money.

 

The Sunday Times had quoted landlord Mohamed Ali as saying that Deluge Fire Protection, based in Joo Koon Crescent, owed him $23,500 in rent.

 

But Deluge project director Tan Ann Kiong said it has an agreement with a firm called Broadlee Construction to house its workers who are from India, Bangladesh, China and Myanmar.

 

Showing documents and copies of cheques paid to Broadlee and the agreement it has had with the firm since January this year, he said: ‘We paid promptly at the start of each month and we’ve never been late in payments. We have no way of knowing whether Broadlee passed on the money to this Mr Mohamed Ali and we have no dealings with him.’

 

The evidence from Mr Tan revealed that $99,360 had been paid to Broadlee between January and April.

 

According to the agreement, the monthly fee of $160 per worker also covered the cost of utilities and laundry.

 

They were housed in two double-storey shophouses in Joo Chiat.

 

Deluge is an established industry player in the construction, installation and maintenance of fire-protection systems.

 

When asked to comment on its workers’ complaints of poor living conditions in Joo Chiat, Mr Tan said: ‘Broadlee promised to replace some faulty equipment, such as shower heads, as well as provide extra beds for newly arrived workers. These promises were never carried out.’

 

Mr Tan said Deluge also paid Singapore Power Services $5,900 this month when Mr Mohamed Ali fell behind on payments ‘because we didn’t want to see our workers inconvenienced’.

 

The affected workers have since moved to temporary quarters in Sungei Kadut after Deluge received a notice from the Urban Redevelopment Authority that the quarters were not sanctioned for housing foreign workers.

 

Mr Tan said: ‘We trusted Broadlee to have obtained all the necessary approvals.’

 

When The Straits Times called Broadlee, a person, who did not want to be named and claimed he was the former owner, said it had stopped acting as a middleman between companies and landlords.

 

Mr Mohamed Ali could not be reached to explain why he insisted that Deluge owed him money even though it had no formal agreement with him.

 

Deluge is now building its own workers’ dormitory at a site off Chin Bee Drive. The facility, which can house up to 500 workers, will be completed in six months and managed by Deluge itself.

 

Said Mr Tan: ‘Our previous arrangement with Broadlee seemed to cater to our needs at first, but look what happened in the end.

 

‘It’s better to have our own place to house our workers.’

 

Source: Straits Times

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