Hong Kong villagers demand to be resettled ahead of Fanling development

Residents in Shek Wu San Tsuen fear they will have to ‘live inside a construction site’ once major work on road in Fanling starts

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 November, 2016, 8:58pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 November, 2016, 10:36pm

Residents of a Fanling village marked for redevelopment are demanding the government resettle them before “disruptive” preliminary work next year.

Villagers of Shek Wu San Tsuen say they are not against development but fear they will have to “live inside a construction site” for years and deal with air and noise pollution, as well as increased risk of flooding.

“It’s not that we don’t want to leave,” said villager Albert Lam Yuk-kwan. “But isn’t it reasonable for us to ask that we be resettled first, before works begin? We will be living inside a construction site for many years to come.”

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The villagers said they had already been impacted by a New World housing development next door, where a cluster of half-finished three-storey houses lie.

“The constant piling caused our ceilings to crack and they were on the verge of collapsing,” said a Mrs Yip, who has lived in the village for 30 years.

Thick overgrowth at the idle site has also attracted dangerous pests such as centipedes and snakes, she said. Because the village is downhill from the site, flooding is a major problem as a result of clogged drains.

Yip and others said things would only worsen when work starts on government land, building a four-lane road linking Ma Sik Road and the planned Fanling Bypass nearby. Some houses are just metres from the work sites.

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Shek Wu San Tsuen, a non-indigenous village of about 200 households, mostly squatters, is tabled for redevelopment as part of stage four of the development plan for northeast New Territories, meaning the village will not be touched until at least 2023.

Lam called on the government to either relocate the village or help residents into public or subsidised housing. Compensation for villagers came to just HK$600,000.

“They are basically trying to force them out of the area, and once they succeed, they won’t have to compensate them any more,” said district councillor Lau Ki-fung, who has been helping the villagers.

Villagers said the Development Bureau told them they would have a rehousing and compensation plan ready for them by the end of this year but had yet to deliver details.

A bureau spokesman said it had been in constant touch with residents and would deal with resettlement and compensation before the main work on the new development area starts.