Dozens of illegal structures being knocked down due to safety concerns

Putuo District began knocking down illegal structures in 147 properties of a local packaging and printing material market Thursday.
Zhang Ningning / SHINE

Workers remove illegal structures from a booth in a packaging and printing market on Zhennan Road on Thursday.

Putuo District began knocking down illegal structures in 147 properties of a local packaging and printing material market on Thursday due to safety concerns, the district's fire department said on Thursday.

The Shanghai International Packaging and Printing City, located on Zhennan Road, covers an area of 85,520 square meters, with about 400 proprietors. 

But the market's fire safety facilities are no longer working properly and many booth operators on the first floor renovated their commercial booths to make extra room for storage and even residences, the local fire department said, adding that this could result in a fire.

There were 147 rooms under suspicion of being altered for illegal use, with some 400 people living on site.

Zhang Ningning / SHINE

The buildings, which were originally designed as offices, were illegally reconstructed and split into smaller compartments to lease out as residences.

Above the booths were buildings originally designed for offices. However, more than 50 compartments were split into smaller rooms to serve as residences. Local authorities said there were more than 1,000 people living in the transformed offices.

“I just moved in last week,” a resident, surnamed Wang, said. “I didn’t realize the place did not meet fire safety requirements.” Wang shared a room of about 15 square meters with two other people, who pay a total of 1,500 yuan per month.

The market’s property management company said related notices had been put up in the market for about a month and that every sub-leaser had been informed. “But some of them did not inform the tenants in fear of losing money,” a staffer with the company who declined to be identified said.

Multiple authorities in Putuo joined the campaign from Thursday to remove the illegal structures and urge the proprietors to use the buildings properly. The illegal residents will gradually be asked to leave.

Demolition will continue until the end of the month.

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