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March 1st, 2008:

Repulse Bay Buses

Updated on Mar 01, 2008 – scmp

I would like to make a complaint about buses in Repulse Bay.

I was walking along the promenade at Repulse Bay at midday and I found myself squinting for the entire stretch to protect my eyes from the dust. I also had to hold my breath whenever one of those giant tourist coaches roared past every 15 seconds. I simply do not understand why tourists can’t be encouraged to use public transport in Hong Kong.

There are several buses that stop directly above the beach. They do not linger and they are frequent and comfortable. By contrast, the typical tourist coach is huge, extremely noisy and causes traffic congestion. Instead of moving on, they wait for their passengers – a row of unsightly vehicles, spoiling the backdrop to one of the last accessible public beaches in Hong Kong.

My stroll was further interrupted by having to politely signal (the key-twist hand motion) to two minibuses parked on the beach roadside to switch off their idling engines. Not only were these two buses empty apart from the resting driver, but the weather was breezy and it was a pleasant 17 degrees Celsius.

People come to a beach to be with nature, to listen to the birds and the waves, not to chugging engines. There are too many double-decker buses routed along the south side. Apart from rush hours and weekends, these huge vehicles are practically empty and cause problems, because of roadworks and narrow, winding roads. There should only be minibuses on the Stanley to Central route. They are suitable for these kinds of roads and faster.

At peak times, if need be, the bus firms can increase their frequency. The only large vehicles on that road should be school buses. These traffic measures have to be implemented if this area is remain a serene getaway destination from urban Hong Kong.

The south side and its public paths and beaches are very special, which, as Hongkongers, we should protect so this area can be enjoyed by us and future generations.

Sofie Shaw, Chung Hom Kok

Government Must Act To Reduce Pollution From Pleasure Craft

Updated on Mar 01, 2008 – SCMPOver the last 10 years the beaches and waterways in the Sai Kung Country Park have witnessed unprecedented growth in the activities of pleasure craft.

What a wonderful resource for those lucky enough to have access.

With this increase, unfortunately, we are witnessing a shocking rise in marine pollution as well.

Many of these otherwise pristine locations are now gasping under raw sewage from the attending boats.

Not only has the number of boats increased, so too has the size, with even ferries from Central and Kowloon bringing thousands of lucky passengers to these Hong Kong jewels.

With this massive pressure being brought to bear I believe it is time to introduce holding tanks for all vessels that have on-board toilets.

With hundreds of tonnes of effluent polluting our beaches from these boats, the jewel is quickly losing its attraction.

With a second pier now under construction in Sai Kung, even more boats can be expected to populate these beaches and waterways.

If we are to save our environment then let the government act swiftly to legislate that all vessels with access to these areas be compliant with holding tanks, and provide suitable facilities ashore to process the contents of these tanks.

A recent memorandum from Sai Kung District Council included the following: “The Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) will construct a second public pier in Sai Kung.

“The committee suggested that the `hollow’ design be adopted for the pier in order to reduce the impact on the flow of water in the vicinity.”

I applaud both the district council and CEDD for the environmental concern they are showing regarding the “flow of water”, but seriously, the impact of the second pier and the marine traffic it will generate in this precious area is of a hugely more devastating concern.

Would the Environmental Protection Department care to comment?

Jon Martin, Sai Kung

Most Polluted Day Of The Year in Hong Kong

Most Polluted Day Of The Year, And More Of The Same To Come

Cheung Chi-fai – SCMP – Mar 01, 2008

Hong Kong recorded its highest pollution reading of the year yesterday with roadside stations in urban areas recording very high levels of smog.

Yesterday’s roadside air quality was the worst so far this year, but the month of February was a lot less dirty than the same month a year ago.

Excluding yesterday, Hong Kong had 22 hours of very high pollution readings for the month – when the API was over 100 – at the three roadside air quality monitoring stations, compared to 198 hours last year.

The API surged to 141 at Causeway Bay roadside station yesterday, 136 in Central and 113 in Mong Kok.

The dominant pollutant at street level is nitrogen dioxide, which comes from vehicle exhausts.

The reading meant the pollution level was very high with people suffering from respiratory or heart illnesses advised to stay indoors or avoid prolonged stay in roads and streets with heavy traffic.

The Environmental Protection Department’s spokesman said the very high API readings were a result of a build-up of local pollution because of light winds, coupled with the influence of high regional air pollution.

“We expect that the regional background air pollution will continue to be high and that air dispersion will remain poor in the next couple of days,” the spokesman said.