Tougher punishments for illegal construction

Friday, September 10, 2010
Issue 1112, Page 2
Word count: 750
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) has proposed a fixed penalty from MOP 5,000 to MOP 200,000 for illegal construction projects including the installation of steel cages on the external wall of the building.

The draft of the urban construction legal system concerning the administrative regulations has been launched for public consultation yesterday until October 9 this year.

According to the proposal, construction projects without a license are divided into three categories: general offences, serious offences and extremely serious offences.

General offences, with a fixed fine of respectively MOP 5,000, MOP 7,000 and MOP 8,000, refer to such as the installation of fences on a podium, window boxes and roofs mounted on the external wall of a building, or the use of fences, doors or windows to close a balcony.

Serious offences, with a fine of MOP 10,000 or MOP 20,000, include the installation of a roof with a size of over 10 square metres on a podium or rooftop, to block or change a public sewage system, the installation of exterior steel cages, and also the construction of a non-brick wall or reinforced concrete structure on a podium or rooftop.

As for the extremely serious offences, the DSSOPT says they include the demolition of main structural components, mountain excavation works and the construction of structures using reinforced concrete or a large steel structure. A person having been caught for initiating any of these works could be fined MOP 50,000, MOP 100,000 or even up to MOP 200,000.

However, it is also proposed that if the offender can finish demolishing the illegal structure by the deadline given by the DSSOPT and restoring the place back to the original condition, the fine could be waived or reduced by up to 50 percent depending on the severity and frequency of the offence.

DSSOPT urban construction department chief Chan Weng Hei said in yesterday’s press conference that there are “a lot of” illegal construction projects in Macau, adding that the number of the exterior steel cages alone is “huge”.

Hence, he said that it is necessary to handle the “more urgent cases first when the resources are limited”.

At present the bureau only has 14 front-line illegal construction inspectors. Chan said “all local residents are inspectors as well”, as most of the complaints made to the bureau were from the public.

Chan also stressed that the steel cages “have always been illegal construction” based on the current law.

“Of course we welcome residents to take the initiative to demolish the cages. But if any people are trying to put up new ones now, the case will be given priority to be handled first by the bureau,” he added.

As for the probably tens of thousands of steel cages that can be found in almost every corner of Macau, Chan did not explain how the bureau will handle them under the new law but only said that they will be “dealt with gradually”.

In addition, if the person did not comply with the demolition order, the DSSOPT will have to inform the Property Registry in order to mark down on the related real estate registration about the existence of the illegal structure.

“If there are strong signs showing that the illegal construction is causing serious harm to the structure of the building, but the offender is unwilling to cooperate with the authority”, the draft law says that the DSSOPT director can request to obtain a judicial order from the court in order to enter that property or individual unit.

Less time to obtain a license

On the other hand, the DSSOPT proposed to abolish the license for the implementation of works, so that a construction project can be started within 15 days after getting the construction license alone. The simplified administrative procedure will shorten the time needed by 20 to 30 days.

For buildings which do not have a management agency, property owners who intent to refurbish the common area of the building but without the consensus of all the other owners, can publish a notice on a newspaper and put up the notice on the building’s entrance. If no one rejects the maintenance within 30 days, the works can then be carried out.

Yet, Chan said the maintenance fees will have to be shared by all the flat owners.

Moreover, it is proposed that a building will be required to carry out the first maintenance and repair works after getting the occupation license for eight years, and every five years thereafter.

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