Nathan Road shopkeepers call for compensation over closure
CHOW CHUNG-YAN and yulanda Chung
Mongkok shopkeepers vowed to fight for compensation as a 19-month-long drainage project they say will drive them out of business got under way yesterday.
The shopkeepers staged a sit-in in Nathan Road, demanding the Government ease their plight.
They said the project might force more than 100 shops out of business and turn one of the SAR's most bustling areas into a business graveyard.
The $30 million project, being carried out by the Drainage Services Department to solve flooding, involves digging up a 500-metre section of Nathan Road for installation of larger water mains and gully.
Around 100 shops will be forced to operate behind hoardings while the work is carried out.
Shopkeeper Choi Li-li, of the Fleur fashion shop, said she faced bankruptcy.
'My shop is near the bus stop. Most of my customers are passengers waiting for buses. Now I have lost 30 to 50 per cent of my customers. I don't think my business can last long.' James Wong Tin-shing, managing director of Wong's Wedding Services, said the Government should have carried out more consultation before rushing into the work. 'The thing that angers me most is that the Government never bothered to ask our opinions. Such a thing should never happen in a democratic society.
'Most shopkeepers have signed contracts with their landlords. They have to pay thousands of dollars every month. Now, with a situation like this, we can't even cover our operation costs.' Drainage Service Department officers met shopkeepers last month. They promised to keep the situation under review and said they would consider the shopkeepers' opinion.
Starting from today, 37 north-bound bus routes will travel along Portland Street instead of Nathan Road.