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 Comments regarding the Highways meeting

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Join date : 2008-04-14

PostSubject: Comments regarding the Highways meeting   Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:55 pm

Dear Friends of Sai Kung,

My apologies for missing the last week's forum with Highways Dept. on the Stage 1 Hiram's Highway project. I have heard reports and tidbits of info from various other members of FSK and would like to say that it is great that there is a mechanism for local residents and concerned parties to express their views to the 'powers that be' for projects, development and plans in Sai Kung. And kudos for those that did not hold back in expressing their thoughts and how this project would affect the residents - a.k.a : people that it is supposedly meant to serve!

I am an indigenous Sai Kung resident and a professional civil engineer and I can truthfully say that I was wholly disheartened when I first saw the plans for this road. Not only are the plans and planning concepts behind the design flawed (I was told this was also pointed out by several participants of the meeting to Highways Dept.), but the lack of consultation with local stakeholders makes this a directive from Government that local residents can do nothing but accept (that is not only referring to now, but back in the late 90's when the road improvement works at the start of Hiram's Highway to Ho Chung went underway - I lived in Wo Mei back then).

Nowadays, the Government has to pay more attention to public opinion and concerns, in fact for new major projects they will have budgeted for this process to take place. (but remember they are still new at having to do this) I think FSK is doing a real service for giving a voice to the SK community. It was not so long ago that 'public consultation' meant a broad brush approach that entailed a noticed posted in the local area bulletin board for a few weeks and a 'chat' with the local village heads (and not all in the District - only those directly on the route - so no regard to other villages further afield, that also use the road!), whilst everyone else was none the wiser (even us Chinese residents).

I can speak from personal experience that an active and vocal community group will have an impact (how big depends on the project and how vocal... to cite a few examples, CR3 was delayed many months before it was allowed to proceed and also, a group in the west of Kowloon - which group? I do not have liberty to say at present..., but their concerns have prompted the Government to tighten air emissions standards from one of their Government facilities and all similar facilities in HK) so if the message reaches the right levels, it can affect policy change. This is especially important when Hong Kong does not have a democratically accountable system like in the West, it is all too easy for Government to maintain the status quo and just let those in power do as they will. Once again, well done and thanks!

As for my opinion on the Hiram's Highway "improvements" - the proposed works as they stand are not necessary, will cause serious disruptions worsening the traffic flows (currently only bad on weekends and public holidays) and is a waste of taxpayer's money.I think most would agree that reduced roadworks and better transport planning is what is needed, rather than that which was proposed.

Regards,

(Transferred from old forum)

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