Petty litterers fined many times more than polluting motorists
Despite irrefutable evidence that our horrendous street-level pollution is generated by vehicles, the government continues to procrastinate by initiating more consultations and plans for district greening projects that never deliver what they promise.
Meanwhile, no steps are taken to implement existing traffic regulations that would clear our streets of the majority of idling vehicles and force drivers into off-street parking facilities.
Vehicles park on yellow boxes and drop-off areas, while drivers snooze, smoke or work on laptops in free-of-charge air-conditioned comfort. More idle at parking meters. Telecom company promotion vehicles hog drop-off facilities in congested areas.
Where are the traffic wardens? With job creation a priority, a government seriously intent on reducing pollution would have already tripled their numbers. The extra jobs would be self-financing through rigorous enforcement with on-the-spot fines comparable to those charged for littering.
Instead, traffic wardens are now fewer in number and they and the police are instructed not to issue fines but to give verbal warnings. An elderly man dropping a cigarette butt is fined HK$1,500 while illegally parked vehicle owners get a courteous warning and then drive around the block to return to the same spot.
The parking fine is a mere HK$320, much less than the littering fine, although an idling engine is causing far greater damage to the environment than a spent cigarette end.
Even more outrageous in view of the soaring temperatures and foul air on our streets is the lack of initiative in enforcing Chapter 734G of the Road Traffic Regulations 44 (1): 'No person in charge of a motor vehicle on a road shall vacate the vehicle - (a) without having stopped the engine.'
Green groups must unite and start a collection to fund a legal challenge to the administration and make it enforce its own laws.
Concerned pedestrians would be more than eager to support this measure.
We must no longer tolerate the favouritism towards motorists that is creating a major threat to our health.
Mary Melville, Tsim Sha Tsui