Shunfu walkway saga set to drag on as talks fail to begin

Talks fail to kick off as invited residents of privatised estate fail to turn up

The saga over a 20m walkway separating two estates looks set to drag on for at least several more months, as talks between the two failed to even kick off on Saturday.

Elderly Thomson Garden residents used the path as a short cut to a bus stop, Shunfu market, kindergarten and Marymount MRT station. But that all stopped last Thursday, when the newly privatised Shunfu Ville fenced up its area.

This outraged some Thomson Garden residents who had been using the pathway for years and now have to take a 500m detour.

On Saturday some 110 met their new MP, Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo, for a closed-door dialogue on the matter.

Its neighbourhood committee chairman Eugene Lee said invitations were sent to some Shunfu Ville residents as well - but none turned up. Mr Lee said he also sent out three proposals to some Shunfu Ville residents when he found out about the closure.

These were: to produce more access cards should Thomson Garden residents want to use the gated path, have the pathway open for certain hours in the day; or keep it open at all times.

The Shunfu Ville residents, however, have yet to reply, said Mrs Teo. "What is most important is for both sides to come to the table and speak to one another," she said. "We need to know what the concerns are before we can discuss the proposals."

The situation has not progressed because Shunfu Ville has yet to appoint a management committee, said former pro-tem committee member Wong Siew Seng, 55.

The pro-tem committee was made up of volunteers with the express interest of privatising the estate. After approval was given by the Housing Board, it disbanded.

The annual general meeting to select a managing committee would happen only in June or July, Mr Wong estimated.

"Before that's done, how can we volunteers decide matters on behalf of the estate? Especially if it involves opening up a pathway that we are responsible for," he said.

Asked for his opinion on the proposals, Mr Wong said the first two would be prone to abuse, while the last might defeat the idea of privatisation in the first place. He said he had not known about the dialogue session.

About 10 of the Shunfu Ville residents The Sunday Times spoke to were unaware of the talks.

One Thomson Garden resident, who asked not to be named, said:"The discussions were not fruitful. But surely the Government can do more."