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January 14, 2011

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Street protest at block damage

RESIDENTS in a downtown high-rise have taken to the streets to protest that nearby construction work has exposed and damaged the foundations of their building.

Dozens of householders in the 18-floor block, many carrying placards and banners, demonstrated in front of the construction site on Changde Road in Jing'an District late yesterday.

"We have no other way to get the problem settled quickly," said a resident, surnamed Shen, who lives on the third floor. "Talks will not fix this."

After work began last November on a new residential building in their complex, many of the 40 households claim they discovered cracks on their windows and walls.

Shen asked: "How would you feel when you can see your building's foundations exposed outside?"

And to make matters worse, building work has disrupted access to an entrance and exit.

"What if a fire happens?" asked Shen, a pertinent question in the aftermath of the high-rise inferno that claimed 58 lives in the same district in November.

Fire vehicles would have no ways getting in and out easily, residents say.

According to a notice at the construction site, the project is expected to be complete by May this year.

The developer, Shanghai Shangqing, told residents that builders are monitoring their block to prevent subsidence.

The developer declined to comment yesterday.

An official with the district office, surnamed Ding, said the developer has agree to repair the damaged apartments. Officials also urged the builders to clear the road.

However, residents said repairs would not be enough. "No one would say my apartment is safe now, nor will it be in the future," said a resident, surnamed Sun, who lives on the first floor.

The residents also worry their apartments will lose value because of the damage. Most home prices in the area are set above 30,000 yuan (US$4,533) per square meter.


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