Planned projects on both sides of harbour ensure congestion

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 November, 2010, 12:00am

I refer to the letter from George Vasilopoulos ('Tunnel toll cuts must not pander to rich in HK', November 20) which expressed concern over my proposal for a Western Harbour Tunnel toll reduction and its impact on the traffic in Kowloon ('Government should experiment with same toll for three tunnels', November 16).

Equalising the toll between the three cross-harbour tunnels will not only help to balance cross-harbour traffic on the Hong Kong side but also cross-harbour traffic in Kowloon. It will also relieve the congestion at the Kowloon end of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, which charges the cheapest toll.

Furthermore, vehicles travelling from Kowloon to Aberdeen, Wah Fu Estate, Cyberport, Pok Fu Lam, Kennedy Town and Western district can then use the western tunnel instead of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel. Accordingly such vehicles will not have to go through Wan Chai and Central, where they are causing the present traffic jams.

Therefore, the traffic flow in both Kowloon and Hong Kong Island should benefit from my proposal. The real problem for Kowloon is the government's proposal for extensive commercial and housing developments on the West Kowloon reclamation. This project will attract more traffic to the harbourfront, and aggravate traffic congestion. Although the project is called West Kowloon Cultural District, it is in danger of becoming just another Cyberport and may become in substance another property development project instead of a genuine cultural district for the benefit of the community and public enjoyment.

It should be kept as green and open as possible, bearing in mind that the original justification for this reclamation given to the then town planning board was to create the largest public park (40 hectares) in Kowloon. It was never intended for property development.

A similar problem exists on the Hong Kong Island side. The sale for property development of the land on the now completed Central reclamation, the commercial development of Government Hill in Central and the construction of phase three of the Convention Centre in Wan Chai proposed by the government will also worsen the present congestion.

These proposals will defeat the purpose of the Central-Wan Chai bypass, as the original justification of the Central and Wan Chai reclamations given to the then town planning board was to build the bypass to relieve traffic congestion.

Hong Kong people must face these problems before it is too late. I shall be interested to receive any useful and constructive suggestion of an alternative solution. If such a suggestion is not forthcoming, perhaps my proposals for equalising the tolls between the three cross-harbour tunnels and stopping all further non-essential and/or private developments on both sides of the harbourfront should be given due consideration by the government.

Winston K. S. Chu, adviser, Society for Protection of the Harbour