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August 6, 2010

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Tent protest over home cracks

SHEN Yingwei has been protesting in a tent for a few days near a bus stop in Hongkou District's Yixian Road.

He and 82 households in a residential complex set up the tents in protest against large cracks appearing in their 14-story building.

Lines written on paper outline their plight: "Our building is going to topple."

Shen and others have been protesting on the road for a week about the cracks, which appear to be getting larger.

"My family lives in fear," said Shen.

The cracks began showing up in roads and building foundations in the complex soon after construction began at a hotel next door in January.

Workers are building an underground parking lot at the Shanghai Bothland hotel, which is about 16 meters from the residents' homes.

As residents' complaints mounted and the situation was reported to district construction authorities, the hotel asked Shanghai Architectural and Engineering Consultants Co Ltd to conduct a test.

The test report showed that the building "is safe" but also recommended "repair and reinforcing work should be done on the building to prevent the cracks getting larger."

"I didn't buy what they said," said another resident surnamed Lee. "How can they guarantee that the building will be safe in future?"

Lee said he actually lived in the tents for a few days but did not get much attention.

According to monitoring around the building, cracks have been widening since late June. One crack is about 25mm wide, but the test concluded that this was still "within the controlled range."

Despite the recommendation for repairs, residents said they have seen none in their complex, apart from workers repairing cracks on the walls between the two sites.

"What if the cracks get larger and larger?" asked Lee.

Lee said there have been three negotiations between residents and the hotel managers with district government officials present. But none of the meetings have ended in any agreement.

The most recent talks were held on Wednesday.

Lee said the residents hope that the government can intervene and ask for a third-party tests on the building.

A spokeswoman with Hongkou's construction and traffic commission said yesterday the commission is still looking into the case.

Hotel management could not be reached for comment.


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