By Sofia Jesus

Structures of two of the Lai Chi Vun shipyard lots, in Coloane, started to be demolished today, the Marine and Water Bureau announced this morning in a press release.

According to Monday’s edition of newspaper Hoje Macau, a petition asking for the protection of the Lai Chi Vun shipyards due to their cultural and historical value has been launched, and it is meant to be submitted to the Cultural Affairs Bureau soon. It was launched by the son of a former boat builder, Tam Chon Ip, the newspaper said.

Today’s statement from the Marine and Water Bureau said these two lots were “seriously deteriorated” due to “permanent lack of maintenance,” which led to the “partial fall” of their structures, posing “a high risk for safety”. The note said the Housing Bureau advised residents who live in the area next to the demolition zones to leave their homes during the demolition works, and offered to support lodging them elsewhere temporarily if necessary.

“Among the 18 shipyard lots in Lai Chi Vun, in Coloane, three lots recovered in the last few years are going through an administrative procedure and will be delivered to the relevant authorities after its conclusion; this bureau is analyzing the request to renew the licenses regarding four lots that currently present facilities in an acceptable state and with a better environment,” the Marine and Water Bureau states in the press release.

But it is not clear from the statement what will happen to the other shipyard lots in Lai Chi Vun.

David Marques, President of the Lai Chi Vun Villagers Association, witnessed the demolition work, which started around 9 am today, according to him. He said residents had be warned there would be works today.

Mr Marques said that up till late afternoon, when he talked to mART on the phone, there had been just “minor damages in some houses” due to the demolition work. “So far, it’s ok,” he said, explaining residents were still not allowed to return to their homes at that moment. He also said he expected works to go on tomorrow.

Mr Marques said that, though some residents mentioned this was a “dramatic” day, there was no opposition regarding the demolition of the structures of these two lots. Mr Marques said safety, to him and some residents, was “number 1 concern,” and he believed the demolition of the structures of these two lots was necessary. As for what is to happen to the remaining shipyard structures there, he said “nobody knows yet”.

Mr Marques has been active trying to showcase Lai Chi Vun village, including by launching a community Facebook page. He is also preparing “a little free library” there to promote literacy, as mART reported here.

mART tried to obtain explanations from the Marine and Water Bureau regarding risk posed by other structures there and future demolition plans in the area, among other questions. But until now there was no reply. mART also contacted the Cultural Affairs Bureau regarding their views on this case, but it has received no reply yet. mART also contacted the office of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, which referred us to “the relevant authorities”.