Alliance backs bigger fines for smoky vehicles
May Sin-mi Hon
A PROPOSAL to increase fixed penalties for drivers with smoky vehicles looks set to be passed, although the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) has refused to back it.
A cross-party coalition, the All- Party Clean Air Alliance, yesterday met for the third time and agreed on a package of 16 proposals, except one on penalties for smoky vehicles.
The coalition will submit its proposals to Tung Chee-hwa.
The Government will table a resolution soon to increase the fixed penalty for smoky vehicles from $450 to $1,000.
Most parties support the increases to $1,000 for a first offence, $2,000 for a second offence within 12 months and $5,000 for a third offence within 12 months.
Liberal legislator Edward Ho Sing-tin, convenor of the alliance, said only the DAB failed to back the proposal because it did not want to increase the burden on professional drivers.
'If the Government does not agree, we can amend the resolution to increase the fines,' he said. 'But I believe the Government intends to improve the air quality. It just doesn't know how far the legislators will support it if the fines are to be increased.' The coalition also proposed limiting vehicles to unload goods at night only in designated areas.
Mr Ho said the suggestion was feasible.
'Other countries have similar practices,' he said. 'Also, some vehicles unload their goods after 6pm for supermarkets already. Actually, it is more convenient for them.' Other recommendations include the quick passage of legislation forcing drivers to switch off their engines while parked; tackling the sale of illegal diesel fuel; encouraging diesel taxis to switch to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG); and increasing the number of LPG gas stations.
A spokesman for the Environment and Food Bureau said members would discuss the proposals soon.
He said a proposal to install devices to monitor pollutants from diesel vehicles would have to be delayed as a tender system had not been set up.
The plans drew strong reaction from drivers' groups.
The chairman of the Organisation of Hong Kong Drivers, Ip Wai-chi, objected to restrictions on the time vehicles would be allowed to unload goods.
'It would cause noise pollution at night,' he said. 'Workers would also have to work overtime so operating costs would increase.
'I hope the legislators will not play tricks during the period running up to the upcoming elections.'