Stop Felling Trees! Put Aside the Bus Stop Expansion Project!
Launched: 01 September 2016
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
The ‘drop-off only’ bus stop outside Fu Ning Garden at Hang Hau will undergo expansion work and the construction will involve chopping down eight trees (this number was taken from the leaflet distributed by District Councillor Chan Pok Chi on 18/8). Those trees were planted before Fu Ning Garden was made, some are over 30 years old. They absorb vehicle exhaust gases, provide shade and abundance of fresh oxygen. Since the Hang Hau bus terminus is just 190 meters ahead of the mentioned bus stop, is it necessary to sacrifice these trees to save a walking time of under 3 minutes?
In addition to that, many residents from Fu Ning Garden were not informed about the bus stop expansion - clearly the views of the residents’ had not been reflected in the District Council. Hence, we demand to shelve the project and a public consultation to be held. A few key assessments need to take place:
- the change in bus routes when Tseung Kwan O - Lam Tin Tunnel and To Kwa Wan MTR lines are opened to traffic
- the number of people who would use the bus stop in the future
- the road safety, the impact to trees, and the air quality before and after the project.
The project should only be carried out after such assessments are done, in order to be truly beneficial to the citizens. Please sign and support!
I have shared the news on the destruction of trees on account of the expansion project outside Fu Ning Mall for those who concern about the development of Tseung Kwan O community. Below are some of the views collected:
- The consultation of construction no. NE/14/2546 (the project) was held a few years ago. The original plan of the consultation was to expand 25 meters but not 47 meters as declared now.
- The community of Tseung Kwan O will have more development projects in coming years which will alter the bus routes, for example Tseung Kwan O - Lam Tin Tunnel, the interchange bus stop project outside the tunnel and the opening of the To Kwa Wan MTR line etc. These will all affect the bus routes and the boarding and drop-off points, in light of this, the practicality of the expanded bus stop remains doubtful.
- According to a news report (http://www.inmediahk.net/node/20160823a), the government department points out that the project costs HKD$500,000. The project initialed on April 2014, in the meeting of the Sai Kung District Council Traffic and Transportation Committee when the motion was approved. The project design was completed at the end of 2014 and was consulted with the District Councillor and other related district personnel by the Home Affairs Department of Sai Kung, during which no objection to the project was received.
- In fact, the project has never been consulted publicly or by questionnaires in the estate and has not informed the residents with notices or any paper. Most residents were shrouded from the truth, thus their opinion has not been reflected.
- There has always been a drop-off bus stop at the construction location (Fu Ning Garden Mall entrance and opposite from U Select). There is already a Hau Tak Estate bus stop and a Hang Hau North Bus Terminus next to the said bus stop. The current project elongates the stop for 47 meters, catering six bus routes, damages at least eight trees (there were already 2 trees being pulled down) and requires razing of a flowerbed. The construction of the project will bring huge impact to the environment, the superfluousness of the project is indisputable.
- According to the reply from the government when inquired by Hong Kong In-media, the Transport Department claimed that the expansion would not pose any risk to the pedestrian, and asserted there was no traffic accident that involves pedestrians at the section of Po Ning Road (160 meters westwards of Po Ning Road intersection) in the project in the past 5 years. Concurrently, the department did not confirm whether they had assessed the utilization rate of the Hang Hau North Terminus and the Hau Tak Estate bus stop. Although the objective of the project was to enhance convenience, road safety issue was neglected. Fu Ning Garden’s residents do not consist only of elderly and adult, but also many children. The construction site is right on the way to schools, there are also a number of kindergartens nearby. (Bilok Kindergarten, Tsing Yi Trade Association Kindergarten, Po Leung Kuk Fong Wong Woon Tai Kindergarten, The Salvation Army Hing Yan Kindergarten, Greenfield English(International) Kindergarten and Nursery at Nan Fung Shopping Arcade etc.) After expansion, the road would be narrower without trees and bushes to divide the road and the pedestrian path, there would only be a roofless bus stop which is incapable of preventing children from rampaging to the road, posing potential traffic danger.
- With reference to Hong Kong In-media’s inquiry to the government, the Highways Department alleged after the department’s assessment that the affected six trees (this number does not correspond with the number in Chan Pok Chi’s leaflet, belong to the breed Eucalyptus sp., which were located at the flowerbed) were not suitable for transplant and have to be removed completely. The Urban Tree Team from The Conservancy Association also sent an expert to conduct a field inspection on the spot on 19/8, and concluded that the tree rings of the chopped trees suggested that they were healthy and it was a shame that they were chopped.
Apart from vegetation destruction, the project will also wipe out existing flowerbeds. Trees and flowerbeds are the buffers between the roads and citizen’s everyday path, without the help of vegetation to combat buses’ exhaust, the air and environmental quality will be negatively affected.
Combining all the reasons above, I suggest to put aside the project and wait for a public consultation. The project could only be beneficial to the citizen after such investigations and proved to be worthy in all aspects.