Use satellite tracking devices to combat dumping, builders say

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 May, 2009, 12:00am

Builders have suggested that global positioning system tracking devices be installed in dump trucks to fight the illegal dumping of construction waste.

Russell Jones, who chairs the environmental committee of the Hong Kong Construction Association, told lawmakers on the environmental affairs panel yesterday that the industry was keen to join green groups and truck drivers' groups to fight the problem.

Some companies had already taken action to prevent their illegal dumping, Mr Jones said, adding that one of his association's members had already adopted the GPS technology - which uses satellite tracking - to 'track the location, minute by minute, of each of its dump trucks'.

'This would give good evidence who dumps what, where and when,' he said. 'The system has proved successful and it is not expensive. I see no reason why this should not be imposed on contractors, either through contracts or legislation.'

The MTR Corporation should also require its contractors to do so given the huge volume of waste its railway programme would generate in the coming years, he said.

Deputy director of environmental protection Albert Lam Kai-chung said the government was not using GPS tracking. Instead, contractors' dump trucks were being monitored through a 'trip-ticketing system', in which supervisors at the construction site issued a ticket to every departing truck stating the time and location to prevent arbitrary dumping.

Democrat lawmaker Lee Wing-tat agreed that the use of GPS tracking devices was the way to go and criticised the government for not monitoring contractors in private projects. Installing a GPS system cost only a few thousand dollars and it would be more advanced and simpler than the trip-ticketing system, he said.

Meanwhile, truck drivers have blamed contractors for illegal dumping. 'The government should track down the real culprit and not us. We are just a sacrificial lamb,' Lee Chi-fai, chairman of the Dumper Truck Drivers Association, said.

Chan Sam-choi, chairman of Transport Worker Organisations, agreed. They both urged the government to monitor contractors in private construction projects.

Green groups said that sometimes it was the sub-contractor, rather that the main contractor, who instructed drivers to dump the waste somewhere nearer the construction site, because they wanted to save on fuel costs.

Lawmakers have set up a subcommittee to discuss legislative changes to tackle the problem. Illegal dumping, apart from being an eyesore, causes environmental problems, by blocking drains after summer rainstorms.

Paying the penalty

From 2005 to April 2008 there were 85 prosecutions against illegal dumping

Of these, there were 27 convictions with fines totalling (in HK dollars): $195,000