Kerbside showrooms make a mockery of pollution measures

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 October, 2010, 12:00am

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, talking during a phone-in programme, suggested some listeners had not read his policy address when they complained he had not resolved Hong Kong's pollution issues. Well, it is obvious some of his civil servants have not heeded his pledges to reduce levels of roadside pollution.

Otherwise, what explanation can there be for the inclusion in the list of the personalised vehicle registration marks auction on October 24 of the number SHOW RM3.

Residents of urban areas like Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay are well aware that registrations SHOW ROOM and SHOW RM1 (I have not spotted SHOW RM2, so this may be cruising the New Territories) are used on large modified Canter trucks. These are used by companies as walk-in mobile promotion vehicles.

They occupy two parking slots, clog our streets, smother us in exhaust fumes, and add to the general congestion by hogging drop-off spots for many hours, forcing vehicles there for genuine off- and on-loading activities to double park.

These vehicles have been adapted to include independent air-conditioning units or generators that pump additional pollution onto our streets and add to the heat island effect. They are also exceptionally high because of the additional roof panels and block ventilation and sightlines.

I protested some time ago to the Transport Department that it was encouraging pollution and congestion on our streets via the approval of these blatant number plates.

However, the department has always sided with the transport sector and ignores the best interests of pedestrians and local residents.

Vetting criteria for the programme does not rule out 'contrary to public interest'. However, one clause notes, 'is likely to be offensive to a reasonable person'. This is certainly the reaction of many people to the presence of such unnecessary, polluting vehicles on our streets.

Firms using these promotion vehicles appear to be unaware that the vehicles inevitably flaunt parking regulations, as a permit is required when parking all day to conduct promotional activities on our streets.

Of course, for many corporations a commitment to corporate social responsibility and caring company logos are just wallpaper on their websites.

The SHOW RM3 and any similar plates should not be auctioned as the paltry sums generated, HK$5,000 in this case, will in no way compensate the additional health expenses incurred through the inhalation of the exhaust fumes these vehicles blast onto crowded pavements.

If Mr Tsang is serious about improving air quality on our streets, he could start with a pep talk to staff of the Transport Department to remind them that the streets belong to everyone, and roadside pollution would be greatly reduced if the administration were genuinely committed to implementing this policy measure.

Mary Melville, Tsim Sha Tsui