HK's blinkered bureaucrats bypass cause of traffic jams

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 September, 2006, 12:00am

I had the misfortune to get stuck in a traffic jam on Sunday while trying to get from Tin Hau to Mid-Levels. Was the holdup the result of a big event in Happy Valley? A street party in Wan Chai? No, as usual it was caused by traffic trying to get into the Cross-Harbour Tunnel. But this was traffic coming from the east, and the queue stretched back onto the Island East Corridor. Reclaiming more of the harbour and building a Central-Wan Chai bypass will not solve this sort of congestion.

A primary cause of the problem, as has been stated so many times, is the discrepancy in tunnel pricing, with everyone wanting to use the cheaper, central tunnel. When will our blinkered bureaucrats realise this and do something about it? Can they not see that there are simply too many cars trying to use the central tunnel? A new bypass will not solve this; it will simply provide an alternative route to get to the bottleneck.

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen talks about strong governance, so let's see some action, not words, from him. Equalise tunnel prices and let the convenience of the route be the determining factor in which tunnel to use. The Protection of the Harbour Ordinance requires an overriding public need before reclamation is allowed, which presumably means that all other alternatives have been tried and have failed. This is simply not the case as far as the bypass is concerned, and to press ahead regardless is deceitful and dishonest.


The government's claim that it sidestepped harbour advisers in an effort to begin public consultation on the Central-Wan Chai bypass 'as soon as possible' is neither reasonable nor convincing ('Public wants bypass now, says official', September 1). By rushing the project through to the consultation stage, the government has shown that it is unwilling to listen to divergent views. Perhaps this is what is meant by Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's pledge of 'strong governance'.

Besides, the government's willingness to turn a deaf ear to the advisers raises concerns over whether it has the patience to seek society's opinion or will take the public consultation seriously.


Further to the report 'Public wants bypass now, says official' and with the new school year having just begun, I have a proposal that might lighten the load schoolchildren have to carry in their backpacks - albeit by a small amount. We should remove the words 'consultative' and 'process' from future editions of school dictionaries. The ink and paper are wasted on words our children will never need. I am sure there are other words we could also drop: 'democracy', 'universal suffrage' and 'meritocracy' spring to mind. A think-tank could be set up especially for the purpose. Given enough input (oops, I'm invoking the concept of a 'consultative process'), we could trim the dictionaries quite substantially.

Words covering actions more commonly associated with our government - such as 'cronyism' and 'autocracy' - should stay, but perhaps could be morphed into softer versions.

MARK A. CRYER, Kennedy Town