Defeated residents attack officials over truck ruling

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 September, 2007, 12:00am

Fairview Park residents say the government has lost all credibility after a court ruled that a works official had no power to come to a deal with them on restricting vehicles on a stretch of private road in the area.

The court decision means heavy trucks that are more than 7 metres long will continue to be allowed to use Fairview Park Boulevard as a short cut between the Lok Ma Chau border crossing and container depots in the New Territories.

But the residents said traffic on the boulevard was a danger, as shown in October when a boy was knocked off his bike and killed.

The Court of First Instance ruled that an agreement reached in 1998 between officials and residents on restricting heavy trucks from using the road, in exchange for support for another infrastructure project, could never be enforced because the officials had no power to do so.

'We are very disappointed. As a responsible government, they just can't eat their words. Now their credibility is bankrupt,' said Albert Lam Kwok-fai, general manager for Fairview Park Management.

An owners' corporation meeting involving residents has yet to be held to decide what follow-up action could be taken, including whether an appeal should be filed.

'The case has exposed a very serious hidden problem with the government which has risked damaging its image so as to protect a small group of vested interests in the New Territories and suppressed the rights of our residents,' Mr Lam said.

He was referring to truck operators who use the boulevard.

Chan Siu-man, a committee member of the owner's corporation, said they had been deceived by the government.

'They made promises in black and white as they tried to resume land from the biggest landowner for a new road. Now they said they have got things wrong. That is clearly cheating us,' he said.

The Transport Department said yesterday there were no strong grounds for the vehicle ban but it would urge the freight trade to avoid using the boulevard during morning peak hours and erect more signs to divert traffic to an alternative route along Kam Po Road.

It also said the government was in the long-term planning a new road to meet development needs and to reduce the number of vehicles using the boulevard.

Chiang Chi-wai, chairman of the Lok Ma Chau-Hong Kong Freight Association, welcomed the court decision and said the dispute should now be at an end. He criticised Fairview Park residents for exaggerating the risk from traffic.

'There are more than 100,000 vehicles over 7 metres long in this city. If they all pose a danger to pedestrians, all the roads should be shut down to these vehicles.'

Mr Chiang said drivers using the boulevard could shorten their journey to the Lok Ma Chau crossing by about 3km.

'The government should really consider buying up the private road and bearing the responsibility for maintaining the road, instead of relying on the residents to finance it. After that, the road could be used by everyone and not just by a particular sector of people.'