Death Of A Village
For over 20 years Kwok Yue-Ka, 53, changed only HK$20 for a haircut but it all ended on Monday when he and other residents were forced to move out of Nga Tsin Wai Village (衙前圍村) in Kowloon.
“Very sad, very sad because I feel that history has come to an end for this 600-year old village” Leung Kwok-Hung, the last resident, told Channel News Asia. “Today (it is) still a village, tomorrow, it’ll be another big site. That’s it, you can’t do anything.”
The 50,000 square foot village was founded in the mid-14th century. The walls were built in 1724 to protect from pirates. They remained until the early 20th century before they were turned into housing. Most of the residents began as squatters. The village was the only remaining walled village left in Kowloon. The redevelopment will preserve the village’s Tin Hau Temple and gate. The remaining buildings will be torn down and turned into shopping and private housing.
The project is estimated to cost HK$1.24 billion and is aimed to be completed by 2018-19. The Urban Renewal Authority announced the village would be redeveloped in 2007. They offered residents a chance to be resettled. Under a proposal, village businesses would be rebuilt in the new development. Rents would be frozen for 3 years at HK$600 for three years then rise to current market values over five years.
The Nga Tsin Wai Tsueun Redevelopment Concern Group fought it saying the amount of money is not enough. They had hoped the Conservation Association would help preserve the village because of its history and culture. The number of villagers had been going down for last few years because of their old age and the poor state of the houses.
Last December the Urban Renewal Authority issued an ultimatum asking the residents to leave or face fines of $500,000 and 6 months in prison if they stayed past today’s deadline.