Residents urge restart of project

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 - Page 4

A dozen residents who support the stalled Wenlin Yuan urban renewal project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林) staged a protest last night in front of Taipei City Hall against what they call the Taipei City Government’s “inaction” over the project and urged the city government to facilitate the construction and help them return home soon.

The residents set up a large tent and six sleeping bags at about 7pm to start their protest, which will last until Monday.

“We will make the city hall our home! Fight until the end,” they said, as they threatened to hold rallies in the future if the city government fails to resolve the dispute.

“We’ve kept our silence and believed that the city government would resolve the problem, but the project has been stalled for more than 10 months following the demolishment [of our homes], and we’ve been in temporary locations for almost four years,” said Hsieh Chun-chiao (謝春嬌), director of a self-help association organized by households that support the project.

“We cannot wander around the city any longer,” Hsieh added.

Resident Wang Chi-ming (王志明) said the protest sought to highlight the problem with the urban renewal mechanism, as residents had followed legal procedures to take part in the project, but ended up having no homes amid continual disputes over the project.

Construction of the apartments has been stalled since the city government dismantled two apartments owned by a family surnamed Wang (王) in March last year, sparking an ongoing protest by the Wang family and anti-urban renewal activists.

Thirty-six households that agreed to cooperate with the project said they have tried and failed to negotiate with the Wang family.

The construction firm and the Wang family both claim ownership of the land and the dispute is awaiting a legal clarification from the Ministry of Justice.

Last night’s protest was launched following a meeting between the residents and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) on Wednesday at Taipei City Hall.

Hau expressed regret over the stalled project, but insisted that the city government does not have the authority to force the construction firm to begin construction.

Taipei City Government spokesman Chang Chi-chiang (張其強) said the city government fully understood the protesters’ expectations that the project start as soon as possible, and said that the city government continues to communicate with the Wang family, the other households and the construction firm in seeking a consensus.