Saturday, August 26, 2006

Activists want electronic road tolls, not reclamation


Harbour activists yesterday condemned the government and its consultants for their insistence on reclamation for a new road along the northern shoreline of Hong Kong Island.

They said alternative measures such as electronic road tolls should be introduced first to ease traffic problems.

Designing Hong Kong Harbour District convenor Paul Zimmerman said while the proposed precincts in the plan for Wan Chai Development Phase II appeared attractive on paper, the amount of reclamation along North Point and Wan Chai waterfront needed for the new Central-Wan Chai bypass remained a major concern.

He said the government had not demonstrated that it had done everything possible to avoid building a road.

"This road they are going to build now will be full by 2016 and what do you do then?" he said. "New reclamation for more roads?"

Mr Zimmerman said the government should first implement other traffic easing measures such as the MTR North Island Line and electronic road pricing.

He said a great opportunity had also been missed by the government consultants with their failure to propose mooring provisions for luxurious vessels along the waterfront next to the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The spokesman for Action Group on Protection of the Harbour, Kwok Ka-ki, said he was disappointed by the government's insistence on the new road.

More importantly, said Dr Kwok, also a lawmaker representing the medical constituency, the cost of building a very small stretch of tunnel would be astronomical.

"Nobody knows whether spending this HK$20 billion will actually solve traffic problems," he said, adding that international experience had found that continuously building new roads did not solve the problem as the new roads quickly became congested. is the premier information resource on Greater China. With a click, you will be able to access information on Business, Markets, Technology and Property in the territory. Bookmark for more insightful and timely updates on Hong Kong, China, Asia and the World. Voted the Best Online newspaper outside the US and brought to you by the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's premier English language news source.