Villagers get full access rights to private road

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 February, 2011, 12:00am

Displaced Tsoi Yuen villagers will get permanent access to their new homes at Yuen Kong Tsuen, Pat Heung, via a private road to the main road, Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat said yesterday.

Lau also promised that villagers would not have to pay to maintain the private road because that was the district council's job.

Speaking on RTHK, Lau, nicknamed the King of the New Territories, said all 18 landowners who owned parts of the private road had agreed to keep it permanently open after a mystery benefactor bought the access rights for the new villagers. But Lau remained silent on the identity of the benefactor.

Forty-seven Tsoi Yuen families, displaced by the HK$66.9 billion high-speed railway project connecting Hong Kong to Guangzhou, bought land near Yuen Kong village and were preparing to build new homes.

But construction could not begin because the villagers were told they could not use a private road to their sites until they paid an access fee.

That fee, which was HK$200,000 in August, jumped to HK$500,000 in November and then to HK$5 million in December.

Lau said on Wednesday that the mystery benefactor who had paid for the access rights had also donated them to the Kuk, the body that represents the interests of all indigenous people in the New Territories.

'It is a rare opportunity. We know each other but [the deal] is coincidental,' Lau said.

'The owners all agree to the Kuk's solution. Everyone can use the road. The access right will last for thousands of years and tens of thousands of generations,' he said.

'The district council will be responsible for the maintenance. All the private roads in the New Territories are maintained by applying for the council's small project funds.'

Ko Chun-heung, the head of the Tsoi Yuen villagers' concern group, said they would contribute to the building of community facilities in the new neighbourhood.

The goodwill gesture, aimed at improving the frosty relationship between Yuen Kong villagers and their new neighbours, will see HK$500,000, an amount the Tsoi Yuen villagers had earmarked for buying the access rights, spent on community facilities.

'The neighbourhood is always threatened by flooding,' Ko said. 'We are prepared to contribute to this or other community facilities. We will talk to our neighbours, we respect their needs.'

The Tsoi Yuen villagers also gave up their right to vote in elections at Yuen Kong after villagers expressed hostility over their moving in.