PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 December, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 December, 2003, 12:00am

Q Is there room for compromise in the reclamation battle?

I suggest rephrasing the question to: why is there no serious opposition to the plan to build a Wan Chai-Central bypass?

Providing more capacity for cars simply increases car proliferation in a never-ending spiral. Numerous cities are demolishing roads built in the 1960s and 1970s when there was still a naive illusion that car growth could be accommodated.

Planners have known for a generation that there are more subtle solutions to traffic congestion, but powerful lobbies with vested interests in promoting more cars, roads, and concrete have frightened governments from implementing sophisticated traffic demand management systems, which incorporate techniques such as road pricing or congestion charging.

Today, the situation is changing with the success of London's recently-introduced congestion charge. It took a politician with the guts of Mayor Ken Livingstone to implement this. Now cities throughout the world, inspired by London's example, are planning to introduce similar schemes.

Not Hong Kong, of course. Predictably, the car-bound bureaucrats of the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau, our legislators, and the business interests they serve continue to pay no more than lip service to transport sustainability.

Given that it always supported the road-building plans for the harbour it is no surprise either that the Society for the Protection of the Harbour's 'alternative' plan, (produced with no more public consultation than the government's scheme) merely reproduces the government's proposed six-lane highway.

Where is the informed and principled opposition to road-building that is now found in every developed country where it is understood that any new urban road building is unsustainable? Name and address supplied

Q Are Aberdeen's seafood wholesalers being treated fairly?

The Aberdeen Promenade car park, which has been used as fish market, belongs to the government. The seafood wholesalers have used the land for more than 20 years without regulation.

They did not pay any rent and the government did not monitor the fish market. They could be potentially causing bad environmental and hygienic problems.

The bad hygiene condition has already caused cholera cases in the market. The government certainly has the right and duty to take it over and ask the wholesalers to register licences.

The government has already lowered the rent from $560 to $200 per square metre. Officials are trying to resolve the issue with the wholesalers. I think the wholesalers should co-operate with the government. Chung Ching-yee, Tsuen Wan

Since the fish market was not regulated, the wholesalers did not pay any rent to the government. They could operate their business at a lower cost, which was unfair to other wholesalers. They have used public land, and therefore taxpayer's money, to run their businesses.

The government must impose control and charge rent on them. Higher quality management can prevent an outbreak of disease and protect consumers' health and benefits. Chu Man-tik, Tsuen Wan

I am so angry about what the seafood sellers have done. And I am totally disappointed with the government officials' handling of this issue.

The government should simply not tolerate what the sellers have been doing, as it is illegal. They have used public land to make money without paying any rent for over 20 years.

The government should take over the market. It does not need to negotiate with the sellers. As a Hong Kong citizen, I hope our government will use its power to protect our welfare. It shouldn't be afraid to act in the public interest. Name and address supplied

It is unfair for the government to take over Aberdeen's seafood market if the wholesalers are unwilling to pay high rents, as their operating costs will be greatly increased due to the high rents, which in turn increases fish prices.

The wholesalers should only be charged what reasonable rent they can afford to pay, given that they have promised to improve hygiene conditions and upgrade water filtration systems.

If the government takes over the market or charges high rents, the wholesalers may have no choice but leave their jobs. Unemployment will increase. This will do more harm than good to society and consumers. Cathy Tse Yuk-lin, Tsuen Wan

On other matters...

I am writing regarding organised walks on Harlech and Lugard roads on The Peak. Most weekends during the winter months, such walks take place on these beautiful roads. Some walks comprise several thousand people.

On November 2, a group of about 1,000 walkers from a local college set off, all them starting at the same time, which created complete chaos.

They mingled with several hundred regular walkers, to say nothing of vehicles employed by sub-contractors for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department who clean the roadway each day.

The police did their best, but this number of people is far too great for these narrow roads.

The number of requests for such walks in increasing, and the police hold no mandate to refuse any such application, or any mandate to insist that groups be staggered, to say, 400 people per hour.

Would the appropriate government body please look at this matter, and give the police the power to oversee and control this situation? As it stands, it is an accident waiting to happen. Barbara Park, The Peak