Residents to defy court with slow-drive protest against trucks

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2007, 12:00am

Residents of Fairview Park in Yuen Long will stage a slow-drive protest after vowing to continue their fight for heavy trucks to be banned from a private road.

The residents are also considering blocking the road, although they are aware this will be difficult.

The protest move came after the Court of First Instance ruled last Friday that an agreement reached between officials and residents in 1998 forbidding heavy trucks from using Fairview Park Boulevard could never be enforced because the officials had lacked the authority to make the pledge.

The road will continue to be open to truck drivers, who use it as a short cut between the border and New Territories container depots.

'We are deeply disappointed and furious over the court's ruling,' a Yuen Long district councillor, Yau Tai-tai, said yesterday.

'It is maladministration. As ordinary citizens we believe officials who sign a contract are representing the government. Now you are telling me that the officials did not have the authority to do so. Where is the spirit of contract? How can we trust the government?'

She said the residents were applying for a slow-drive protest by more than 100 vehicles on September 15.

'Our residents also agreed at a meeting on Sunday that we might block the road to trucks, but this might not be possible without police assistance,' Ms Yau said.

The group will also arrange a meeting with the Ombudsman and government officials to voice their dissatisfaction. The 20,000 residents are worried for their safety because of the number of trucks.

'The government simply ignores our safety,' Ms Yau said, referring to the death of a 12-year-old boy who was knocked off his bicycle and run over by a truck in January.

Residents are also angry over noise pollution and at having to shoulder maintenance costs. While trucks degrade the road, the residents and the developer, Fairland Overseas Development, pay the repair bills.

'Common sense can tell you that it is wrong,' Ms Yau said. 'The road was built for the use of cars that our residents use. Its design is not fit for heavy trucks. Because of them, the road has often been damaged.'

Albert Lam Kwok-fai, general manager of Fairview Park Management, said the government had won the court battle but lost people's confidence.

'Our lawyers are studying the judgment now. We have not decided whether an appeal will be launched,' Mr Lam said.