Betting tips awaken residents
THE idle banter of mainland barge skippers over their loud-hailers is disturbing the slumber of thousands of New Territories residents.
The chit-chat, which regularly pierces the nights over Tsuen Wan, has included betting tips for the next day's horse racing, legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip complained yesterday.
The friendly, sometimes comical, exchanges are no laughing matter for Rambler Channel waterfront residents being awoken from their sleep.
Mr Chan, once woken himself at 3 am by the speaker-enhanced loud-hailers, suggested a possible solution at the opening of a $20-million marine traffic-control station yesterday.
Since Chinese barges and tugs have to pass through the area controlled by the station perched over the Ma Wan fairway on their way to the public cargo holding area in the Rambler Channel, marine officials could contact those with radios and ask them to desist from the anti-social behaviour, said Mr Chan.
Mr Chan, guest of honour at the opening ceremony, urged Director of Marine Ian Dale to ban the practice under his department's licensing provisions.
Loud-hailers are used at night to bring the barges into the holding area safely, but Mr Chan claims radios and mobile phones could do the job adequately. He said: 'It's a very primitive communication system they are using. Many of the barges are worth millions of dollars and they could afford radios or mobile phones.
'We are talking about a huge noise. I estimate there are more than 30,000 people affected.
'We have had numerous meetings with the Marine Police and Marine Department about this, but the Marine Police say it's difficult to get the evidence to prosecute.
'We don't object to the loud-hailers being used in an emergency, but not to discuss horse racing. Some conversations can last, on and off, for 15 minutes.' A Marine Department spokesman said: 'We will certainly advise skippers to refrain from using their loud-hailers at night.'