Displaced New Territories villagers have offered HK$500,000 to a neighbouring Pat Heung village for access rights to the land where they want to build new homes.
But up to last night, it remained in doubt whether their offer would be accepted, as representatives of Yuen Kong San Tsuen, which controls the road with a private company, responded with a chilly reception.
"I'm not sure if they will accept the offer. The [displaced] villagers shouldn't take it for granted," Pat Heung rural committee chairman Tsang Hin-keung said last night.
The former residents of Tsoi Yuen village, displaced by a cross-border rail project, earlier believed an unknown benefactor had paid money to help them secure use of the private road, which links to land they bought at Yuen Kong. But they found the road blocked again last year by a new owner, a firm named Charming Star Properties, to stop construction vehicles from entering. One of Charming Star's directors, Lau Wai-bing, is a property agent and owns the land behind the villagers' site.
The HK$500,000 offer is the latest move in a two-year dispute with Yuen Kong residents, who say the new village will disturb their serenity and demand a maintenance fee for the road. The former Tsoi Yuen residents acted after Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat failed to resolve the conflict with the road owners. "If they want us to pay, we can give them the money immediately tomorrow," Tsoi Yuen village concern group convenor Ko Chun-heung said yesterday.
Lau said: "There was some misunderstanding with the donor at that time … It turns out some part of the road at the entrance of the village is still privately owned."
The Transport and Housing Bureau said it had offered help to the villagers before. It passed the question of whether the government would consider buying the road to the Lands Department, which in turn said the issue should be resolved by the bureau.