Neighbours say good riddance to bad rubbish hoarded in Central flat

After months of complaints, authorities finally clean up man's hoard of trash in Central flat

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 August, 2013, 5:05am

Government cleaners yesterday removed 12 tonnes of rubbish from a private residence in Central after the expiration of a 14-day official notice ordering the landlord to clear out his trash.

Cockroaches and flies spilled out of bin bags as the 35 workers sent by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department packed up used beer cans, stacks of old newspapers, burnt furniture and other assorted rubbish.

The clean-up, which lasted more than nine hours, drew outrage from Tam Man-ip, the landlord and occupant of the 500 sq ft top-floor flat and rooftop in Mee Lun Street.

He expressed indignation at the clearance and said the department had not notified him. "How could they remove my treasured possessions forcibly?" Tam, 51, said. "They simply told me my belongings were stinky and dirty, and so they threw them away - this is theft!"

This was not the first time the department had obtained a court order to allow it to clear out a private property. This move came after months of complaints from district councillors and neighbours about the refuse-choked flat, who claimed they were severely affected by the stench, bugs and insanitary hazards.

Tam, who is single and unemployed, said he used to sell newspapers for a living, but later retained them in his flat "for reading and to wipe things". He had tried to throw some things away before, he said, but was refused by nearby rubbish stations.

He got his meals from St Barnabas' Society and Home and slept in a park or the building's stairwell, he added.

Neighbour Patty Kong, who has lived downstairs with her family of four for 30 years, said the situation was exacerbated by a fire that ripped through the top floor in July last year. The incident caused ceiling leaks that flooded her flat. "We were filling buckets with the dripping water even three months after the fire, but Tam never apologised," she said. "When he started defecating in the corridors, we thought it was the last straw."

District councillor Kathy Siu Ka-yi said the department should have been more responsive to the neighbours' grievances. "Although it was private property, the situation was bad enough for it not to be delayed for so long," she said.

The department said it had on July 16 issued a notice warning the occupant to clear out the trash within 14 days.