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February 13th, 2008:

Air Quality Info To Be Broadcast During Run

Timothy Chui – The Standard

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Major road arteries on Hong Kong Island, West Kowloon and parts of the western New Territories will be closed for up to 10 hours on Sunday for the Standard Chartered Marathon which, with its ancillary races, has attracted close to 50,000 participants.
Following concerns about poor air quality in past years, the latest air pollution index will be broadcast regularly from 4.30am onward through public address systems and sign boards, the organizers said yesterday.

Eight ambulances, 420 medical personnel and 3,000 police officers and race helpers will also be on standby to render assistance, along with 26 first aid stations manned by the Auxiliary Medical Service.

With Hong Kong still in the grip of a cold spell which has already lasted 20 days, organizing committee chairman William Ko Wai-lam advised runners to observe proper warm-up techniques and dress appropriately.

Jackets traditionally reserved as souvenirs for runners will be handed out before the races in the event of rain, he added.

The New Territories and Kowloon routes for the full and half marathons remain the same as last year though both events will finish at Victoria Park instead of the convention center.

The popular 10-kilometer run, however, has been switched to the Island Eastern Corridor. Road closures along the marathon route will begin at 2am.

The major routes affected will be the Island East Corridor, the southbound lanes of the Western Harbour Crossing, West Kowloon Highway, Tsing Kwai Highway and Ting Kau Bridge.

Other closures include the eastbound lanes of the Tsing Ma Bridge, Cheung Tsing Tunnel and Connaught Road West, Rumsey Street and Harcourt Road flyovers.

The Transport Department’s senior transport officer for Wan Chai, Keke Leung Cheong-kit, said road closures for the 10km race will be lifted by 10am.

He said 155 bus routes and 27 public light bus routes will be affected.

Endless Talking Does Not Curb Pollution


I found the statement by the assistant director of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), Benny Y.K. Wong – that the government welcomes and takes seriously the community’s views on how to tackle the air pollution problem – quite depressing (“All views on air quality welcome”, February 5).

So the EPD needs our help? I thought they were the experts. Shouldn’t the people responsible for clearing our skies already know what to do? I guess not.

Mr Wong, here are some suggestions. I am only a teacher, not an environmental expert, but these ideas seem easy to understand. We should implement an idling-engine ban, something discussed since 2000, and introduce road pricing – also discussed for years.

All vehicles that do not meet the most recent environmental standards should be removed within six months. London imposes a daily fine of more than HK$3,000 on polluting trucks. This is action, not consultation.

Make catalytic converters mandatory immediately on all vehicles that do not meet current standards.

Our two power companies should be required to install the most advanced technology that is available to reduce emissions.

Finally, we should use the new World Health Organisation scale for assessing pollution, not the 1987 scale now in use. This is the easiest one to do immediately, but is currently in the consultation process.

These ideas are not new. They have been “discussed”, some for many years, but no action has been taken. So, Mr Wong, can you please tell me what good it does to make suggestions when no action is ever taken?

It is sad that the ones who could make a difference just do not seem to care enough. Mr Wong, the people cannot make any of these changes. We need action, not endless consultations, which it seems is the only thing this current administration is good at.

Terry Scott, Sha Tin