Last of Lorong 14 squatters to move out soon

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THE last remaining household in Lorong 14, Seria will move out soon bringing an end to decades-long occupation of squatters in the area.

The last one to leave will be senior couple Sua Boon Hua and Sim Ing Ton who have been living in Lorong 14 since the 1980s. They will move to a newly-constructed house paid for by their children, said Boon Hua's brother, who requested anonymity. Their old house is located at the back of Panaga Primary School and is without electricity and piped water.

“The new house is built on our family's land. We demolished the old house, where our parents used to live as it was already damaged by termites,” Boon Hua's brother said yesterday. The couple’s new home in Jalan Kg Cina, Seria will be built in the next couple of months.

But unlike the other families already relocated from Lorong 14, the senior couple claimed they enjoy living in their house using its vast surrounding to harvest coconuts, raise chickens and 20 dogs.

They also stored various used items - from electronics to cardboard boxes - at the ground floor of a vacant government flat adjacent to the school located only a few metres from their house.

“As we are both not working, we actually can earn from raising poultry, collecting coconuts, and collecting recyclable material. We do not want to lose this (source of income),” said Boon Hua yesterday.

The Belait District Office staff who are actively relocating squatter households across the district previously admitted that finding an alternative home for the couple proved difficult because the husband, Sim Ing Ton is a foreigner who holds a green identity card.

“Four out of the five households from Lorong 14 have been successfully relocated to government barrack units across the district this year after their applications were granted,” said Belait District Officer Hj Haris Othman.

Green IC holders take a backseat to applications from locals for housing, according to a list of over 30 criteria drawn up by the Belait District Office to categorise and prioritise assistance.

“The situation in finding this couple housing assistance is difficult because we have over two hundred applications being processed at present, a number that is growing every day, and the locals and permanent residents have to take priority,” said Hj Haris.

Lorong 14 is the smallest of the four main squatter areas in Belait. The others are Kg Jabang, Kg Api-Api and Kg Sg Baru.

The Brunei Times