Popular seafood restaurants at Lovers' Bridge forced to go

PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

PETALING JAYA - The controversy surrounding the two demolished seafood restaurants at Lovers' Bridge in Tanjung Sepat, Kuala Langat - which were tourist attractions - continues to dish up interest.

The owners are finding it hard to say goodbye to a place they grew up in and where they raised their children over the past four decades.

An upset Ocean Seafood Restau­rant proprietor Lee Siao Chai, 52, said: "We just want a place where we can do business. Don't they know that all our lives depend on the restaurants?"

The other eatery is Lover Bridge Restaurant operated by Low Swee Kiang, 50.

Both were torn down two weeks ago following the expiry of their state-issued temporary occupancy licences.

The operators do not own the land the restaurants were built on.

They were served eviction noti­ces in November 2015 after Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali announced that Lovers' Bridge would be reconstructed.

The bridge got its monicker because it was a popular spot for courting couples to watch sunsets.

The area also attracted tourists and foodies who thronged the two restaurants for chili crab and orh chien (oyster omelette).

It was high drama when Land Office personnel showed up to demolish the restaurants. The Lee and Low families even went on their knees begging for a reprieve.

They were escorted from the premises by police, and then the enforcement team ripped into the structures.

"It was handed down by my father to my elder brother and then to me," said Low, who has to take care of his children as well as those of his widowed sister-in-law.

Lee claimed that both restaurant operators had met Selangor Local Government, New Village Develop­ment and Legalising of Factories Committee chairman Ean Yong Hian Wah who promised to relocate them to a similarly sized site.

However, Ean Yong told The Star that the families did not accept the proposal from the start.

They were also offered another temporary site, but it was much smaller than their previous plot.

The families also found out that a food court would be built by the Kuala Langat District Council on the former site of their restaurants.

Lee and Low said they were not trying to challenge the state government but only wanted a place to continue their business.

Lee added that his extended family, which includes 13 children, relied on the restaurant for their livelihood.

Lovers' Bridge first made the news in 2013 when parts of it collapsed during an inspection tour by Tanjung Sepat assemblyman Mohd Haslin Hassan and village head Tai Hoo Chong.

Both were injured in the accident.

In 2015, Azmin announced that the state planned to reconstruct the bridge which also serves as a jetty for some 40 fishing boats.

Ean Yong had told a press confe­rence that the restaurants apparent­ly needed to move because they were hampering reconstruction of the bridge and causing related works to be delayed.

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