Water main repair was a difficult job
I refer to the letter by Susan Madon ('Left in the dark over burst pipes', February 19).
On the morning of February 8, a 600mm diameter water main at Wong Chuk Hang Road supplying fresh water to the service reservoirs serving Shouson Hill, Repulse Bay and Chung Hom Kok, burst. Initially, water supply to these areas could still be sustained because of the water remaining in the service reservoirs. Our initial estimate was that the repair would be completed by 6am on February 9 and only the water supply to Shouson Hill would be affected after 9.30pm on February 8. We thus served advance notice of the anticipated supply suspension through radio and television announcements. We also arranged for a temporary water supply to the affected customers by water tanks and wagons.
However, as we opened the road surface, we found the site congested with numerous underground utilities including gas mains, high voltage cables and another, large-diameter water main. As the repair was going to take much longer to complete and the water supply to Chung Hom Kok and Repulse Bay would also be affected, we immediately arranged modification works to the supply system to provide supply to the affected areas from two alternative sources: one for Chung Hom Kok and part of Repulse Bay and another for Shouson Hill and the remaining part of Repulse Bay.
As the respective service reservoirs became depleted, the water supply to Chung Hom Kok and Repulse Bay was suspended from 1pm and 3.30pm on February 9 respectively.
We announced through radio and TV the water supply suspension with an anticipated supply resumption time of 10pm that evening. Temporary supply by water tanks and wagons was arranged. When the modification works for the provision of alternative supply to Chung Hom Kok and part of Repulse Bay were completed as scheduled, normal water supply to these areas was progressively resumed by 10pm.
As the modification works for the provision of alternative supply to Shouson Hill and the remaining part of Repulse Bay were relatively more complex, we issued a press release in the evening of February 9 to inform the affected customers that the water supply suspension would continue overnight.
The works were subsequently completed on the morning of February 10 and normal supply to Shouson Hill and the remaining part of Repulse Bay was progressively resumed from 3pm and 7pm respectively on February 10.
As our hotline received a very large volume of calls during the water supply suspension period, the waiting time for customers who wanted to talk directly to our customer service officers became much longer. The inconvenience thus caused to the customers was very much regretted.
We apologise for the inconvenience caused to our customers affected by the prolonged water supply suspension. We will review our systems for providing the most updated information on emergency supply suspensions, and put improvements in place as necessary.
S. K. Yeung, chief engineer, Hong Kong and Islands, Water Supplies Department
Policy is bad news for artists
The government wants to revamp old industrial buildings in areas such as Fo Tan and Kwun Tong. It hopes that if they are renovated it will be easier for the owners to sell them.
This policy can have a negative effect on artists who rent out spaces in these old factories to set up studios.
Many artists have moved there because the rents are cheaper and they can afford to have more space. These districts have also helped to nurture performance artists.
Many small theatres and studios have been opened, and Hong Kong residents have become involved.
The new policy means that the buildings' owners are more reluctant to let space out to artists for cheap rents.
They would rather revamp their buildings and change their use because they can make more money that way.
I would urge the government to make some amendments to the policy so that artists are allowed to stay on.
Oliver Lam, Sham Shui Po
Sweeteners not the answer
I think the budget should have helped low-income families become financially independent, but I do not approve of the one-off sweeteners.
They may bring some short-term relief but it would have been better for the financial secretary to teach these people skills that would enable them to earn more money.
If they were able to earn more they would not need these short-term sweeteners.
People from low-income sectors of society have to learn to help themselves and the government should provide them with the opportunity to do this.
All Hongkongers need to work together to make this a better city. We should not just ask what the government can do to help us.
We should also be thinking about what we can do to make Hong Kong a better place.
Katy Chui Ho-suet, Yuen Long
Make sensible spending plans
In the budget the financial secretary announced measures aimed at offering relief to some people and helping society as a whole.
One of those measures was to provide subsidies of up to HK$1,300 to help needy students use the internet.
In fact, the government offers different forms of relief to help lessen the financial burdens faced by low-income families.
It offers subsidies and families are also entitled to the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance scheme.
The fact is that these families also have a responsibility to try to sort out their own financial problems.
They should seek ways to reduce general expenses and parents should encourage their children to spend sensibly.
Kwan Ho-yin, Kwai Chung
Subsidy will help students
The budget has offered students from low-income families internet subsidies of up to HK$1,300.
Some people criticised the sum as not being enough for poor Hongkongers.
However, I would look at it from a different angle.
If a family is on an extremely low income, then they should get more than HK$1,300. If they are on a higher income then HK$1,300 will be enough.
This amount is only for internet subsidies. Poor families can apply for other subsidies.
If students shop around they should be able to purchase a computer for HK$1,300.
Therefore, this subsidy can really help them with their studies.
Gigi Li, Tsuen Wan
Parents have crucial role
I refer to the report ('Alarm as children at 90 per cent of schools admit using drugs', February 26). Youth drug abuse figures show that more than 90 per cent of primary and secondary schools have pupils taking drugs.
In the past, the drug abuse problem was confined to secondary school pupils and students who were older than secondary level.
Now primary school pupils are taking drugs and this is down to peer pressure.
They can get drugs from friends and the drugs are cheap.
I think it is important for parents to pay more attention to their children and be aware if there is any change in behaviour that might indicate drug use.
Even when they are at work they should keep in touch with children by phone.
Officials should now consider if it would be a good idea for the drug tests introduced last year to be extended to primary schools.
With the right measures adopted I hope we can see a drop in drug use among pupils.
Zero Ngai Ka-ying, To Kwa Wan
MTR rudeness can change
Whenever I take the MTR in Hong Kong, I see people ignoring the arrows indicating where they should board and alight carriages. Passengers on the platform charge forward before people have had the chance to alight.
The MTR's announcements ask passengers to stop running but people just ignore this plea.
The JR lines in Tokyo handle more passengers than the MTR, and they have a very orderly flow of passengers in and out of the trains, which arrive and leave on time. Even on the Beijing metro the behaviour is better than in Hong Kong.
It is important that the MTR Corporation enforces its by-laws and also uses education to encourage travellers to show more consideration.
The no-spitting and 'Clean Hong Kong' campaigns were effective so there is no reason why behaviour cannot improve on the MTR.
Magdalen Yum, Menlo Park California, US
I refer to the letters by Markus Shaw ('How to report littering drivers', February 22) and P. A. Crush ('Taxis not on littering list', February 25).
I can only confirm the disappointing status quo. A taxi driver recently smoked while I was sitting inside his taxi and dumped the cigarette butt out of the window. I was able to call the police and even produce the butt when they arrived at the scene. The driver agreed that he smoked inside the taxi and threw it out of the window.
On Saturday I received a letter from the traffic police that informed me that, unfortunately, the driver will be summonsed only for smoking inside the taxi with passengers on board, but not for littering.
Klaus-Bernhard Jotz, Tung Chung