Stanley pier sinks in red tape

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 January, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 January, 2001, 12:00am

Owners of shops and restaurants at Stanley say hopes of developing tourism by building a pier have been buried under red tape.

The pier at Stanley Bay vanished from plans for a now-finished Housing Department project on the waterfront. Funding was allotted, but almost three months after completion of the project last October, the pier is nowhere to be seen.

It was originally incorporated into the design of the Murray House and Stanley Plaza project by the Housing Department, but it is understood that the Housing Authority said the pier was not viable and the Housing Department was not the proper department to build, run and operate it.

Members of Enhancement of Stanley Tourist Attractions (Esta), which last year successfully lobbied the Government to create a pedestrian-only zone at weekends, are furious. They are also upset at the inaction of various government departments and have warned that tourism will suffer.

The group, comprising residents and owners of shops and restaurants, said it was now dealing with housing, transport, marine, planning and tourist association officials to find out who was responsible.

'If you can tell me which department is on the project and how they get on it, you will have a bottle of wine from me,' said Joop Litmaath, a resident of Stanley since 1971 and a member of the general committee of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce. 'It's as if their left hand doesn't know what their right hand is doing. Everybody says they are aware of [the pier], but nobody can say anything firm.'

A spokesman for the Housing Department maintained that the pier had not been set aside and the department was in the process of reviewing its design and development potential.

'They can rest assured the pier will be there. We are looking into something more than just piles of concrete pillars. We want to make the pier more characteristic, perhaps with shopping facilities,' the spokesman said, although he failed to give a timetable.

In a letter to Esta last December, the Transport Department said that while the Marine Department and Civil Engineering Department indicated no objections in terms of safety and construction, it doubted vessels landed often enough to justify a pier.

'It appears that further justification for such a need is required before a department in the Government can be identified to implement the project,' the letter said.

But a Transport Department spokesman last week said that although it was responsible for major ferry piers it would not object to another department building a smaller jetty.

Liberal Party legislator Howard Young said he was in favour of a pier for Stanley and urged the Government to consider developing local cruising as part of its tourism initiatives.

'At the moment, there's not enough of a landing pier for local cruising, which I reckon has strong potential,' he said. 'A cruising tour could loop around Hong Kong's scenic spots from Lei Yue Mun to Lamma Island and to the south of Hong Kong Island.'

Esta member Jonathan Somerville said it would send a questionnaire to 1,600 locals and tourists for their thoughts. The group says an alternative pier further along the bay would be acceptable if the pier proposed originally could not be built.

Esta deputy chairman Yvonne Fitzsimmons added that every weekend hundreds of tourists arrived in pleasure boats and junks at Stanley Bay but were forced to make a 'risky' landing without a decent pier, or resort to a jetty in nearby St Stephen's Bay and take a bus to Stanley Main Street. 'This shows the justification for a pier, and that's the first thing the Government should do in developing Stanley as a tourist spot,' she said.

Graphic: STAN14GET