Evicted shopkeepers won't get extra cash

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2006, 12:00am

San Po Kong estate will be cleared, say housing officials

The Housing Department remained adamant yesterday it would not pay additional compensation or delay clearance for protesting shopkeepers forced to vacate a former factory estate.

A department spokeswoman said the clearance date could not be delayed further because of the condition of the San Po Kong estate.

That came after the shopkeepers staged an overnight sit-in outside Government House and took their protest to executive councillors yesterday morning.

Shopkeepers are entitled to up to $1.49 million in compensation, equivalent to their total rent for almost 11 years.

But legislator Chan Yuen-han said yesterday that basing the calculation on the rent of the derelict building and not the market price was unfair because it would be difficult for the evicted shopkeepers to find an affordable location with that amount.

Meanwhile, a Housing Authority member described as 'difficult to accept' a promise by the government to shoulder $6.4 million in unpaid wages owed to workers on three projects taken back from the contractor because of delays.

Housing Authority Director Thomas Chan Chun-yuen said on Saturday that the money would come from the $35 million surety paid by contractor Dickson Construction, subject to Housing Authority approval.

Authority member Wong Kwun said the move violated the spirit of the contract system. 'It is not the department's duty to cover unpaid wages. The employment contract is signed between the contractor and the workers. It may set a bad example.'

But he said he would vote for the proposal because vetoing the plan would expose the authority to severe criticism.

Mr Wong said reforming the contract system was a long-term solution for unpaid wages, as well as improve monitoring and record-keeping on the progress of projects.