Residents from Erchong Borough (二重) in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Sanchong District (三重) gathered on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei yesterday morning to protest against the special municipality’s compulsory acquisition of their homes.
During the protest, residents placed fruit on tables as an offering to the gods and burned incense sticks.
“God, please find out for us who will profit from tearing our homes down,” the protesters said.
Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times
The forced demolition is scheduled to take place at the end of the year as part of the city’s Tamsui River “Manhattan Riverside” project, which will expand the width of a road that goes through the neighborhood in Erchong Borough by demolishing 69 buildings.
The residents filed a petition with the Presidential Office after the protest in the morning.
Earlier this week, a separate petition was filed with the Control Yuan, requesting that it look into the case to determine if the special municipal government had violated administrative procedures or had broken the law.
An elderly resident surnamed Wu (吳) wept as she said she had washed clothes for more than 40 years to buy a home in the area, but now the government was taking it away from her.
“Please don’t tear it down, or at least give us a new home to live in,” she said. “We don’t know what to do ... how can we live?”
Another resident, surnamed Chuang (莊), said 20 percent of his home had already been torn down for a road expansion 30 years ago, adding that if the government were to go through with its plan to -demolish more of his home, he will be left with only 1m2 of land to live on.
“That’s about the size of a man standing,” he said.
The residents said they only accidentally learned about this plan in April when a resident was surfing the Internet and came across a city government briefing.
The buildings were built on a flood plain that has been designated a “no construction district” for 40 years, but when residents learned that the prohibition had finally been lifted this year, they also learned that they face eviction from their homes.
According to the Urban Planning Act (都市計畫法), residents of affected areas in urban planning projects must be notified about hearings through reports published in newspapers before the plans can be sent to government review commissions for approval.
Resident Chen Wei (陳瑋) said the head of the borough and residents were not properly informed of the project through public bulletin boards or by mail, adding that the government had only published the information on the China Daily News, a local newspaper published mainly in Greater Tainan.
Chen said the Urban and Rural Development Department could not answer their questions about traffic volume and floor area ratio in the nearby boroughs, nor could he say why the road expansion is needed.
The government seems to be concealing information and violating legal procedures, lawyer Chan Wen-kai (詹文凱) said, adding that the procedures should be done again to take the residents’ opinions into account.
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