Private road blocks way to new life for villagers

Displaced people get land to build homes but the only way in is barred by posts and concrete

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 March, 2013, 5:29am

Villagers forced out to make way for a cross-border express railway say they are still unable to build new homes despite claims by rural leaders and the government that problems of access to the land were resolved two years ago.

Posts bar the only way to the site where the new Tsoi Yuen Tsuen is planned. A notice says it is a private road.

The villagers - still living in temporary houses built by the MTR Corporation - say conditions there are becoming unbearable. "I thought we could settle down here happily," villager Cho Shung-tai said. "I didn't expect things would go so bad."

The residents of the village near Shek Kong fought a two-year battle against being displaced to make way for a depot for the HK$66.9 billion railway.

They agreed to move in the belief they had secured land and access to a new village.

Initially banned from using the road by residents of nearby Yuen Kong village, they thought their troubles were over when Heung Yee Kuk leader Lau Wong-fat said a secret benefactor had bought them access rights.

When they tried to start building their homes in October, posts and concrete blocks denied them access to the site.

"We trusted the government and the Heung Yee Kuk that everything had been settled, but now it turns out it's not," Yau Kai-woon, 78, said. "It's all right to live in the temporary houses for seven to eight months, but after that, it becomes unbearable."

Lau admitted yesterday that the access issue was not entirely resolved, with 1,000 to 2,000 sq ft of land outstanding. "We also thought everything was settled, but it turns out some part of the road is still privately owned."

He appealed to the owners to be understanding and to let Tsoi Yuen Tsuen residents use the access from Kam Sheung Road to the new village site.

The contractor engaged to build the new village says he is losing money.

The Home Affairs Department said its Yuen Long district office had been providing support in mediation and would continue to do so.