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The Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA) today (30 July) met with Mr Yau Shing-mu, Under Secretary for Transport and Housing. At the meeting, BPA expressed concerns with an increasing project backlog, which included, among other things, inadequate pedestrian links and transport connections. Mr Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, BPA Chairman, urged the Transport and Housing Bureau to review and resolve the ongoing bottlenecks with pedestrian connectivity projects in the interest of improving the quality of life in Hong Kong.
At the meeting, Mr Leung submitted to Mr Yau a list of pedestrian projects in need of urgent attention. Also present were Dr Lo Wai-kwok, BPA Vice Chairman; Mr Fong Ping, Chairman of the BPA District Affairs Committee and the Kwai Tsing District Council; Mr Jimmy Kwok Chun-wah, Chairman of the Sham Shui Po District Council; other District Council Members and community affairs executives.
As the Legco had recently approved funding for the Government’s new policy to promote a barrier-free environment, Dr Lo pointed out that the Bureau should conduct a thorough review of the policy to promote better coordination and to avoid delays by carrying out too many projects at the same time. Clarity with responsibilities and effective division of labour are of paramount importance particularly for projects that fall outside of the Highways Department’s jurisdiction
Post-sale oversight gaps with Public Housing Units
Mr Fong Ping, Chairman of the Kwai Tsing District Council, cited the footbridge linking Cheung On Estate and Maritime Square in Tsing Yi as an example of the bureaucratic void that usually arises after the sale of public housing has been completed. The footbridge, with a daily utilisation rate of more than 1000 trips, is an essential link for residents who shop for groceries and those transferring to the Tung Chung Line and the Airport Express. Currently, pedestrians can only rely on the narrow ramp and staircases to access the footbridge resulting in considerable inconvenience to the disabled. Ms Tam Wai-chun, District Council Member, added that plans for retro-fitting a lift has been discussed since 2009 but was deferred due to confusion surrounding the appropriate government agency with oversight of such plans. The Bureau should promptly examine the feasibility of BPA’s proposal in installing lifts to provide easier access to the footbridge.
Another case in point is the Sham Shui Po District, which has grown significantly both in the number of new housing estates and the number of senior citizens. Mr Jimmy Kwok Chun-wah, Chairman of the Sham Shui Po District Council, together with Mr Bruce Li Ki-fung and Mr Shum Siu-hung, District Council Members, demanded that a lift and escalator be installed respectively at Exit A of the Mei Foo and Exit D of the Lai Chi Kok MTR stations to facilitate access. They also urged the Government to conduct planning studies on Site 6 of the North West Kowloon Reclamation Area, spanning the bridge pier and public transport nodes connecting to other districts, so as to better accommodate pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
Golden Opportunity to Enhance the Transport System
Mr Man Chen-fai, Tai Po District Council Member, urged the Bureau to grasp the opportunity presented by the Government’s plan to set up Community Green Stations to alleviate traffic congestion at the Fung Yuen Road junction by widening the lanes or building a roundabout at the site. Mr Ricky Sun Wai-kei and Mr Chow Ping-him, both community affairs executives working in the Sha Tin District, respectively spoke on the need to provide all-weather amenities for local residents, specifically a shelter over the entrance of Fo Tan MTR station and a footbridge linking Sha Tin Wai MTR station to nearby residential premises.
Mr Yau acknowledged the existence of policy grey areas, which could give rise to situations whereby projects and associated construction and maintenance costs would fall concurrently under the purview of the Housing Department, housing estates or the MTR. He said that the case of Cheung On Estate was not unique and that the Bureau would try to bring about a satisfactory resolution of the issue. He also undertook to study the BPA’s proposals in detail. He described the meeting as very useful in facilitating face-to-face exchanges between the Government and district representatives to resolve issues at the district level.
The BPA has been dedicated to serving the community across all districts since its foundation. It does so through the hard work and efforts of its network of District Council Members and the practice of its motto of “professionalism improves livelihood”.