Collapsed building's owner must wait

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2011, 12:00am


The owner of a tenement building that collapsed in Ma Tau Wai early last year may not be able to obtain compensation from the Urban Renewal Authority as quickly as other owners in the area do.

Owners were offered compensation of as much as HK$9,785 per square foot when the authority began acquiring properties in Ma Tau Wai Road for redevelopment earlier this month, more than a year after the building collapsed, killing four people, in January last year.

But the authority wants to clear up legal risks before it makes an offer to the owner of the collapsed building, Block J at 45 Ma Tau Wai Road.

'We can't rule out the possibility that the owner could be prosecuted as the court case [against a contractor] proceeds,' a person close to the authority said, adding that the authority could be asked to compensate victims if it bought the property now.

'Of course, the social sentiment is also a factor affecting our consideration,' the person said.

The authority will consult its board members today on whether to postpone the compensation.

Meanwhile, contractor Chu Wai-wing, 74, will appear at Kowloon City Court today after the hearing was adjourned for two months.

The prosecutor asked for the adjournment to allow further inquiries into whether Chu had committed more serious offences. He is accused of demolishing unauthorised works in a manner that caused injury to people and damage to property. He faces a maximum penalty of a HK$1 million fine and three years' jail.