Party raises alarm on worn-out signs

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 March, 2006, 12:00am

Abandoned boards are dangerous, members say

Abandoned and poorly maintained commercial signs are a danger in older districts and the government is not doing enough to regulate them, a political party warned yesterday.

The Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood said it had found 219 abandoned or suspect signs during a two-month investigation of 18 areas in West Kowloon earlier this year.

'Many of them were clearly in disrepair,' said member Ronald Yeung Chun-yu. 'Some were light boxes that had their sides smashed and the fluorescent light tubes are about to fall out. Others were attached by only two metal chains, one with a chain so loose it was longer than the other.'

The pro-democracy party also found many signs flouted Buildings Department guidelines by extending more than 4.2 metres from the wall.

Many were also installed without the approval or knowledge of building owners, particularly in older buildings that lacked proper management. This meant the problem was prevalent in districts with older buildings, such as Shamshuipo and Kowloon City, where shop tenants also changed quickly.

'The Buildings Department has a team that inspects and removes such signs, but it is a difficult task,' Mr Yeung said. 'The signs take less than an hour to install, and the time from installation to abandonment could be as little as one month because shops change so often in those districts. Afterwards, it becomes nearly impossible to locate the original owners of the signs.'

He said the Buildings Department should increase staff assigned to inspections. 'The department is currently forced to take a 'big first, small later' approach in removing signs but that is not good enough,' said Mr Yeung.

He also warned that unsuspecting building owners could be held liable should an accident occur.

Shamshuipo District Council vice-chairman Leung Lai, who is also a party member, urged the government to make it compulsory for sign owners to have third-party insurance before installation and for signs to be installed by government-authorised technicians, or those who are qualified.

A Buildings Department spokeswoman said it had been inspecting dangerous and abandoned signs. She said the department had removed 1,597 such signs last year, and plans to deal with another 1,400 this year.