Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ubin kampung residents won't be evicted

The Straits Times  |  April 13, 2013
But the 22 households who received HDB notices will have to start paying rent or relocate

Kampung residents of Pulau Ubin who recently received notices from the Housing Board (HDB) that their homes were to be cleared will not be evicted, as they feared.

But the catch is, the 22 households, which are in different parts of the island, will have to start paying rent to continue living where they are.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and the Ministry of National Development (MND) yesterday addressed rumours that some residents on the 1,020ha island are being forced to move out to make way for an adventure park.

Such a new facility is not on the cards, they said in a joint statement last night.

"The planning intention is to keep Pulau Ubin in its rustic state for as long as possible, as an outdoor playground for Singaporeans," the statement said.

The current situation goes back to 1993 when plans were made to develop a "recreation park" on the island.

The Government said then that it would acquire 254ha of private land partly for this purpose.

From 1994 to 2005, cycling and hiking trails, campsites, shelters and toilets were built to cater to visitors. The Ketam Mountain Bike Park, which opened in 2008, was also part of this plan.
The acquisition exercise entitled legal property owners to resettlement benefits, whether or not they moved.

But as the affected residents were now living on state-owned land, they had to apply for a temporary occupation licence (TOL) to continue living in their homes, the authorities said in the statement.

A recent SLA review found the 22 households have done neither and thus were issued notices on March 12.

The HDB document said these homes are slated for "clearance", and that officers will visit the premises to conduct a "census survey" and determine their "eligibility of resettlement benefits".

Only those who have documents to prove that they own the house will be entitled to the money.

The survey, to end in June, will also ascertain if the households intend to relocate or stay.
Those who choose to stay will have to apply for a TOL and pay rent, which will be increased gradually so that residents pay the full market rate from the sixth year onwards.

Rents will depend on the site and gross floor areas and usage, to be determined from the survey.

Assistance will be given to those who require and qualify for it, said the SLA-MND statement.

Even so, Madam Kamariah Abdullah, 54, is worried that she cannot afford to pay the rent.

Her taxi driver husband has been diagnosed with stomach cancer and is undergoing treatment, she said.

She has been told by the authorities that she may receive $10,000 as resettlement benefits, which is "too little", she said.

Madam Kamariah does not know the size of her home, but said she had documents of ownership.

"I don't understand why they want to give us money, then take it back through rent," she said.

Former pig farmer Lim Chu Zi, 82, the son of the late village chief there who is the representative for the village, said many residents have never paid property tax.

His own home is not affected, but others have moved out ahead of this episode, he said. About 10 families are left in one affected area, known as Kampung Melayu, in the middle of the island.

About 100 people are estimated to live on Pulau Ubin.

When asked if she had ownership documents, one resident, Ms Jariah Garib, 76, would only say that her house had been handed down for generations. An officer had inspected her place, but it is unclear whether she qualifies for any benefits.

"I was born here and have lived here all my life. If I have to leave, I'll have to move in with my daughter in Singapore," she said.

She lives on the island with another daughter.

Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C

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DTZ Property Network Pte Ltd (L3007960A)

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