Objection re G.N. 1665, Dated 22 March 2010, PWP Item No. 703TH

19 May 2010

Dualling of Hiram’s Highway between Clear Water Bay Road and Marina Cove and Improvement to Local Access to Ho Chung

1. Introduction

1.1 The Friends of Sai Kung is a Hong Kong Registered Society and “not-for-profit community organisation which seeks to preserve and improve the quality of life of Sai Kung people and to protect the unique environment of Sai Kung for the benefit of Hong Kong and its visitors.”

1.2 The Society was registered in July 2007 but was developed from the original Sai Kung Association registered in 2004. It currently has 133 active, paid up members, the vast majority if not all of whom are Sai Kung residents and/or property/business owners or employees. It currently has a further 575 online members and supporters.


1.3 The Society has been concerned about the proposed dualling of Hiram’s Highway since its inception and has held meetings with and attended presentations by Transport, Highways and Home Affairs Department officials.

1.4 It should be noted in this connection that, in stark contrast to the Hiram’s Highway Stage 2 major works project which has so far responsibly conducted two public Forums at Sai Kung Town Hall, this works project has held no such consultation with the Sai Kung public but has merely “consulted” the Sai Kung District Council and Rural Committee and “concerned village representatives”.

1.5 During the summer of 2008, the Society conducted a signature collection campaign on the streets of Sai Kung town and collected in excess of 1,800 signatures in support of “Stopping the Four Lane Highway to Sai Kung”. Half of these petitions, all submitted to the Chief Executive, were from Sai Kung residents and businesses and half were from visitors to Sai Kung.

1.6 The Society, it should be emphasised, strongly supports the government’s desire to improve safety and traffic flow on Hiram’s Highway and to this end, submitted alternative proposals to the Transport and Highways Departments which are attached at Annexure A.

2. Objection to Works

The Society has no objection to the works planned for the upper section of Hiram’s Highway between Clear Water Bay Road and the existing dual carriageway downhill towards Nam Pin Wai roundabout.

The Society has no objection to the works planned to improve local access to Ho Chung.

The Society objects to the dualling of Hiram’s Highway between Nam Pin Wai roundabout and the far end of Marina Cove as follows:

2.1 Cost: it has been reported that Stage 1 construction costs alone are HK$0.5 billion. The Society’s members are all Hong Kong tax payers and we object to our money being spent on what we deem to be the totally unnecessary dualling of the highway. The money to be spent on the construction of this aspect of the project, plus the unknown costs of resuming land and property to do so, would be far better spent on additionally improving the existing section of highway and local access to Ho Chung; Annexure A refers.

2.2 Disruption. The Works will inevitably cause huge disruption to local activity and local and passing pedestrians and road traffic, even if no work is conducted during morning and evening “rush hours” and weekends and public holidays. This disruption is likely to carry on for at least 2 years. This will force road traffic to use Sai Sha Road as an alternative which will probably result in increased accidents and will certainly disrupt the lives of residents along that road too.

2.3 Environmental Destruction. The Works will result in the felling of trees and the demolition of buildings, destroying the existing ambience and pleasing visual appearance of the area as well as the loss of valuable wildlife habitat.

2.4 Environmental Pollution. The Works will produce noise, dust, debris and machinery exhaust, all damaging to residents’ and visitors’ physical and mental health and well being.

2.5 Minimal Local Community Benefit. The Works will not directly benefit any local residents or businesses, all the project costs going into the hands of external consultants, developers and construction companies and with minimal if any local labour being employed; please correct us if we are wrong.

3. Objection to Use

The Society has no objection to the planned Use of the upper section of Hiram’s Highway between Clear Water Bay Road and the existing dual carriageway downhill towards Nam Pin Wai roundabout.

The Society has no objection to the planned Use to improve local access to Ho Chung.

The Society objects to the Use of a planned dualling of Hiram’s Highway between Nam Pin Wai roundabout and the far end of Marina Cove as follows:

3.1 Demand. There has in reality been no local demand for a dual carriageway and the results of the major projects Stage 2 Public Forums confirm this. There may well be misconceived demand by vested interests and property developers but there is no public demand either from locals or visitors.

3.2 Need. There is in reality no need for a dual carriageway. The road is already wide enough to provide for another entrance/exit lane for Marina Cove and it will merely move traffic to a single carriageway and into Sai Kung town where there are still no plans for park and ride facilities; Annexure A refers.

3.3 Safety and Inconvenience. The Society firmly believes that the 19 fatality coach crash at the Nam Pin Wai roundabout on 1 May 2008 would not have occurred had there been no existing dual carriageway downhill. Extending the dual carriageway to the far end of Marina Cove will encourage speeding and overtaking between the two roundabouts and pedestrians will be inconvenienced by the central divider.

3.4 Alternatives. The Society’s Use alternatives proposed to (and so far rejected by) both Transport and Highways Departments would be more efficient, less costly, less disruptive, less damaging and less polluting and would enable the money saved to be spent on additionally improving local access to Ho Chung (which is currently experiencing major access problems and resultant conflict and social disruption) and improving the rest of Hiram’s Highway; Annexure A refers.

4. Concluding Remarks. In sum, the project to dual Hiram’s Highway is illogical and misconceived and is also at variance with what both the Home Affairs and Planning departments have to say about Sai Kung:

4.2 HAD: Sai Kung is the “Back Garden of Hong Kong”

http://www.had.gov.hk/en/18_districts/t_my_map_13.htm

4.3 PD: Sai Kung is the "Leisure Garden of Hong Kong"

http://www.pland.gov.hk/pland_en/press/publication/nt_pamphlet02/sk_html/concept.html

4.4 Sai Kung, then is on the one hand described and planned as a recreational “garden” by government administrators and planners but on the other hand perceived and targeted as a vast “construction site” by extravagant and misconceived government transport officials and their consultants. The Society believes that there is no real transport need for a dual carriageway but that developers have persuaded government that one is needed if Sai Kung is to develop in the way they deem suitable.

4.5 Sai Kung is similar in history, size and community value to Stanley. Are there any plans to build a dual carriageway from Wong Chuk Hang and Shau Kei Wan to Stanley? Probably not. Partly because construction costs would be enormous, as they would be to dual Hiram’s Highway all the way into Sai Kung town, and partly because there is nowhere left to develop in Stanley.

4.6 The Society urges the government to spend our tax money on first improving Hiram’s Highway and its feeder roads and building park and ride facilities on either side of Sai Kung town as we have proposed. This is the form of sustainable development that Sai Kung needs to maintain and build its attraction to residents, businesses and local and overseas visitors.

Respectfully and sincerely,

(Guy Shirra)
Chairman
for
Friends of Sai Kung