Families forced out in final demolition of homes on Tainan rail project
Tainan, Oct. 13 (CNA) The Rail Bureau on Tuesday commenced with the demolition of the last three homes standing in the way of a railway relocation project in Tainan, giving the families no choice but to leave the sites.
In the city's East District, the house owned by Chen Chih-hsiao (陳致曉) was condoned off at around 5 a.m. and the demolition began an hour later, after Chen's elderly parents, his sisters, and several protesters were forced to vacate the property.
In the North District, two houses owned by Huang Chun-hsiang (黃春香) were knocked down at around 7 a.m., as several protesters were forced off the properties before the demolition process started.
The demolition of the three properties by the central engineering office of the Rail Bureau brought an end to a long standoff between home owners and the local government over the project that will relocate part of the Tainan railway line underground.
The project was initiated in 1993 and approved in 2009 by then President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). Work began in 2012, when current Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) was Tainan mayor.
The construction of the new underground rail segment required the demolition of 340 properties, a plan that was fiercely opposed by 121 of the home owners. Eventually, all except six of them yielded, and the city government began demolition of those six homes in June this year, forcing the families to vacate.
Huang and Chen were the last two holdouts, and the Rail Bureau commenced Tuesday with the forced evacuation of their properties, an action that Chen described as "shameless."
"First, the city government refused to hold negotiations with us, as we had requested to avoid demolition, then it suddenly decided to start the demolition during the negotiations," Chen said. "I can only say that I had underestimated the shamefulness of the Democratic Progressive Party."
Commenting on the issue, Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) said it was time to end the standoff, because the city residents wished to see the project completed as soon as possible to avoid accidents, injuries and train delays.
The owners of the properties that were demolished will receive the best possible compensation, he said.
The rail relocation project was scheduled to be completed in 2024, but the date was pushed back to 2026 due to delays caused by protests and confrontations with some of the homeowners whose properties were in the way.
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