Hong Kong air pollution

It is essential to have exemptions included in idling engine legislation

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 3:07pm

I am glad that compromises have been made with regard to the idling engine bill. Following the death [from suspected heatstroke] of the 81-year-old minibus driver [in July], it is important to approach this legislation with a degree of caution.

His death illustrated the flaws in the original draft of the bill. On hot summer days if the engine of a minibus is switched off, temperatures inside the vehicle can rise to close to 40 degrees Celsius. Those opposing exemptions seem to adopt double standards. Of course the welfare of children [affected by pollution] is important. But the lives of drivers are just as precious. With this idling engine legislation we have to strike the right balance.

Proposals that they can always find shade are not practical. Minibuses drivers in queues must move forward on a regular basis and it does not make sense to expect them to find some shade. Also, there are some areas of Hong Kong where finding shade would prove very difficult.

When the air-conditioning is turned on it benefits drivers and passengers. When the temperature inside a vehicle is too high it might prove fatal for some people. I wonder if tourists would still be keen to come to Hong Kong if they knew they would have to sit on a tour bus with the air-conditioning switched off.

Some correspondents have looked at similar legislation in Europe but are not comparing like with like. In the summer in Hong Kong temperatures can reach as high as 35 degrees.

If the bill was passed without exemptions, I think this would have a detrimental effect on the minibus and taxi sector.

If it suffered financially we could see thousands of drivers being made redundant because no one wants to get in a taxi or on a minibus which is unbearably hot.

While we need to think about the health of the next generation, we also have to recognise the importance of these professional drivers being able to have a livelihood. We have to consider all groups in society.

If the law is to be feasible the exemptions are necessary.

Li Kai-ching, To Kwa Wan