Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Out with the old

As I was walking home today, I noticed that there was a number of heavy equipment near the squatter slum that I pass through everyday on my way to work. It seems that the municipal authorities have finally decided to move into the illegal settlement and tear down the squatter houses that have been in the area for quite some time. By the time I passed through the area, the majority of work has already been completed and that most of the empty squatter houses have been leveled to the ground. The police were present just in case any unforeseen incident were to occur but since the people who were previously living in the are had long ago moved out to the new low cost apartments nearby, nothing major really happened. I don’t really know what they have planned for the land but I did hear of a proposed development of another low to medium-cost apartment complex in the area. I just hope that they plan to widen the road leading out of the area if they are planning a new housing complex since the existing road is already congested every morning.

I think that it was about time that the authorities came in and demolished the mostly empty squatter houses. The place was fast becoming a haunt for undesirable elements of our society that it hardly feels safe to travel through it at night. There have been a few cases of break-ins and theft that was traced back to the area in the past 2 years that it would be a relief to surrounding residents that the slum has been torn down. While most of the previous residents of the area had moved into the apartments that were sold to them at a very attractive subsidized price, some choose to remain in the area and make money by selling off their subsidized apartments to outsiders. These people think that they could profit by the state government’s generosity at the expense of other people. Some have even been reported as taken over several squatter houses that were left behind and setting themselves up as slum lords who rent these dilapidated shacks to illegal immigrants.

I didn’t see anyone rounded up when they were demolishing the squatter houses today so I guess that the illegal immigrant residents there have been forewarn about the arrival of the authorities. There were a few small trucks that were ferrying household items for those who waited until the last minute before moving out. Since the situation was calm when I passed through it, I guess that they were given ample notification to vacate the area. I would hate to hear that any one was forcibly removed from their house although in a way the local authorities do have the right since they were already given alternative housing. Although I can appreciate the reason why some people might have to live in squatter slums like the one near my place, I can hardly believe that they would continue to stay there once they are given a better house to live in. It would hardly make sense to continue to do so unless the underlying reason was pure greed.

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