Long closure period makes no sense

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 12:00am

After three years living in Singapore, where for around HK$4 per visit customers swim in pools that are open all day without a break every day of the year and provided with changing rooms that are clean, bright and constantly maintained by pool staff who are multi-skilled, I find that the situation in Hong Kong is noticeably different.

After using the main pool at Kowloon Park swimming complex for two months last year, it was a surprise when the 50-metre pool was closed for the whole of April and May. Although I felt at the time that it must be for major repairs and maintenance required every five years or so, the need to close for two months still seemed unreasonably long. Anyway, the water in the pool was emptied the first day and nothing seemed to happen until it was filled again a few days before it reopened. The changing rooms were just as grubby as before, with rusty pipes, dirty floors and ripped, mouldy shower curtains.

Imagine my astonishment when I found out the same pool was being closed once more this year for maintenance, again for the whole of April and May. There must be some ordinance that was written 20 to 30 years ago requiring pools be drained and maintained once a year. Even if this is still the case, with the improvements that have been made in filtering and chemicals, why does this exercise have to take two months to complete and why waste so much water each year if it is not really necessary?

To end on a positive note, I applaud the introduction of Octopus cards to speed up entry and, more importantly, the roping of two lanes at the Kowloon main pool to help control swimmers. It would be a dream come true for swimmers if all the lanes had lane ropes.