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Wang Chau housing saga

Wang Chau villagers furious as they wake up to find notice of government construction work

Residents had planned to confront officials on Friday morning to demand clarity over resettlement plans, but formal notice had been posted overnight

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 November, 2016, 2:48pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 November, 2016, 11:26pm

Dozens of villagers, fearing that their homes will be bulldozed to make way for a controversial public housing project in Wang Chau, have lashed out at authorities for “keeping them in the dark” over resettlement procedures.

Around 40 residents set out to guard village entrances at 6am on Friday morning after being notified that authorities would enter the village to give formal notice on the project’s infrastructure works.

In 2014, the District Council passed a plan to build 4,000 public flats on a heavily vegetated green belt site, which also involved displacing 180 households in three villages - Wing Ning Tsuen, Fung Chi Tsuen and Yeung Uk San Tsuen.

Villagers had hoped to confront authorities about their decision and ask for clarification on the project’s timeline, construction details and resettlement options.

However, many were angered to find that the government had posted official notices already at the village entrance overnight.

“They knew we were going to guard the entrances this morning, so [the government] chose to do it overnight in a cowardly manner,” Ray Lam, a resident from Fung Chi Tsuen, said.

“We’ve not been consulted, we’ve been given zero information [on the project]. I took a day off work for this, but they’re not even brave enough to explain all of this to us directly face to face,” Lam said.

Government departments are required to gazette their decision online and at the locations involved.

In response to inquiries by the Post, a spokesman for the Civil Engineering and Development Department said they posted two notices at the site at around 7.30am on Friday, contradicting the villagers’ accounts of the time they were posted.

The two notices authorised road and sewerage works for the Wang Chau project, which would begin in June 2018, the spokesman added.

Land resumption is required for the road works, but he did not mention whether the process had begun.

Many fear that they would be forced to clear out after construction begins.

“The government is building public housing for people to live in, but we’re going to end up on the street. How does that make sense?” 74-year-old resident Lam Yiu-ting said.

“I’m not going to get in the way of them trying to build public housing, but they should at least resettle us first,” Lam said.

According to current policies, residents affected by a government clear-out can move into public housing if they are qualified or accept compensation, a Lands Department spokesman said.