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Workers find a home away from home

Update: March, 28/2013 - 09:12
A mobile container house is used as living quarters for technical staff at a construction site in Xuan Dinh Commune, Tu Liem District, Ha Noi. — VNS Photo Thai Ha

by Le Ha

HA NOI (VNS)— After leaving his village in central Thanh Hoa Province to earn a living as a construction worker in Ha Noi, Le Xuan Thuan, 35, started missing his house. It was large and comfortable – and stable.

"Today here, tomorrow there. That's how we workers lead our lives," Thuan said during an interview at his current home, a mobile container in Me Tri Commune, Tu Liem District.

Made from old containers that measure six to 12 meters long, these houses accommodate 20-30 workers (in the large version) or five or six (in the small version).

For Thuan and many other construction workers in the city, these containers have replaced make-shift tents.

"This type of accommodation is much cheaper and more convenient," said Le Van Tuan, 32, another container resident in Tu Liem District.

Each time the team moves to a new construction site, workers bring the container houses with them.

Investors of construction projects generally pay about VND20-30 million (US$960-1,440) for these accommodations if using old containers and double that amount if they use new ones.

It takes the workers half an hour to turn the containers into makeshift homes, equipped with basic amenities as well as TV sets and wardrobes.

While there is no privacy inside the container, "it's still better than a tent," Tuan said. "And the most important thing is that I am here to earn money to feed my four children."

In the winter, he added, the container can be an ideal house because the thick walls hold in the warmth. But in the summer, this becomes a problem and it feels like a hot iron box. Sometimes the workers spray water to cool the iron walls. Others have added windows.

"Containers are not as popular as real houses because many people are worried about the poor conditions and cramped space. Most local contractors don't want to spend much money to set up equipment for the containers," said Pham Thi Thu Ha, deputy general director of PetroVietnam.

Vietnamese container houses are much better equipped with toilets, electricity, water and air-conditioning than those in other countries, according to Ha, who also takes responsibility for the company's construction projects in the mainland and at sea..

Luu Duc Hai from the Urban Development Department of the Ministry of Construction praised the idea of using mobile container houses as accommodation for construction workers, given their "many tangible benefits".

But he suggested contractors pay more to better equip these houses to improve the living conditions of the workers.

Mobile houses produced by the Vietnam-US industrial company in northern Bac Ninh Province could be another option, he said. These cost VND100-300 million ($14,400) and could be used for more than 30 years. — VNS


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