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No progress in talks to resolve compensation

ATTEMPTS to resolve compensation issues linked to the toppled building in Shanghai's Minhang District broke down in chaos yesterday.

An estimated 200 people representing owners and their families turned out to discuss compensation plans offered by the developer at a negotiation meeting organized by the district government.

However, because the government decided that only one title-holders of each apartment in the Lotus Riverside complex could be represented in payment talks, thus excluding spouses and partners, most of the owners refused to negotiate alone.

Scenes of chaos then developed at the Zhangmu Industries office on Meilong Road W. as owners wanting to ignore the directive tried to get into the meeting room but were turned back by government officials.

"This is a big issue for my family and I can't make the decision by myself," said an agitated owner from the toppled Building No. 7 which fell on June 27. "This is a negotiation. We have the right to discuss with our spouses."

"This is unfair," said another buyer pointing at the officials. "There is no such limitation in the notification they gave us."

An official with a loudspeaker tried unsuccessfully to calm the crowd.

"Please understand that we don't have enough room for every family member of the apartments," he said.

Parties representing 32 of the 42 owners attended the arranged talks. However, when the restriction of representation was imposed, only five owners were prepared to engage in talks.

The five subsequently rejected the compensation offer options presented, blaming the negotiation deadlock on lack of sincerity from the developer.

Two lawyers for the developer, Shanghai Meidu Real Estate Co, which is under government investigation, represented the firm at the talks. They presented two compensation options in talks with the five owners that lasted for about two hours.

Under Plan A, the apartment owner could get a refund of all money, plus interest and a 5 percent penalty bonus on the initial price of the apartment to cover fees.

Under Plan B, they could exchange the current contract for an unsold apartment from the other 10 buildings in the complex plus get the penalty bonus.

The buyers, however, argued in Plan A they should also be refunded the interest on their mortgage payments.

"A lot of items in the contract need to be revised," said an owner who attended the negotiations. "You, the developer, didn't show enough sincerity in the contract."

No agreements were made yesterday and the developer's lawyers said they would talk with the company to improve the offers. They said compensation plans would be mailed to the other owners.

Meetings are scheduled today between the developer and owners of apartments in the other 10 buildings in the complex.


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