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Located at the western end of Lantau Island, Tai O is a large fishing village that still retains its character today. The town is divided by a large canal and fishing boats are still anchored along its banks. Many homes are built on stilts alongside.

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Tai O fire victims still waiting to rebuild
By Cynthia Wan and Marcal Joanilho
2 July 2001
South China Morning Post

Only four out of 50 families made homeless when stilt houses were gutted in a blaze in Tai O a year ago today have managed to rebuild their homes.

Villagers yesterday blamed the Government for being too slow to approve redevelopment, reconnect water and electricity supplies and build roads, all of which have contributed to delays in rebuilding, even though all 50 families were granted building permits.

"The Government simply does not want to help us rebuild our homes," said Stanley Chan Sui-ming, vice-chairman of Tai O Residents' Rights Concern Group.

"There are no water and electricity supplies, which are basic requirements. We have bought all the necessary fire equipment, but the Fire Services Department continues to ignore us."

Mr Chan said the families in the four completed houses had to tap into other electricity sources.

About 90 stilt houses along the Tai O creek were destroyed in a pre-dawn fire on July 2 last year, leaving hundreds of villagers, many of them elderly, homeless.

The 50 families battled the Government for months before the Planning and Lands Bureau granted building permits in December. The bureau said the delay was due to a sewage-disposal plan then being drawn up.

Mr Chan said villagers had plans to rebuild at least 40 stilt houses in the area at a cost of $100,000 to $200,000 each.

The Institute of Architects had drawn up plans to help villagers rebuild the houses with a more comfortable design, but Mr Chan said the Government had not approved the design. The institute wants to protect the stilt houses, saying they represent the roots of the fishing village.
 
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