Sham Shui Po stalls face uncertain fate

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 January, 2011, 12:00am

While Central's dai pai dong have been given a new lease of life, it's another story in Sham Shui Po, where their survival hangs in the balance.

While the Central and Western District Council accepted the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department's proposal to loosen licence restrictions in 2009, the Sham Shui Po District Council rejected the offer.

'The operations of dai pai dong in the district caused street obstruction, noise, littering, waste water and greasy fumes, resulting in complaints from nearby residents,' a departmental spokesman said. As a result, the district council refused to support any change to the status quo until the problems were dealt with.

But the district council's vice-chairman, Tam Kwok-kiu, said the council's position was more nuanced.

'Some types of dai pai dong just provide breakfast, late-night meals, coffee or toast, and they're quite welcomed by residents,' he said. 'On the other hand, some operate like restaurants with fried food and Chinese dishes, and they really cause much nuisance.'

Tam said the council wanted the department to move some of the offending dai pai dong to government-run cooked food centres

'That way the others can stay in the streets and keep the dai pai dong heritage alive,' he said. 'But we're yet to have a positive response.'

The council receives about three complaints a month during summer.

'That's when a lot of people like to sit outside and drink beer,' Tam said.

The Sham Shui Po businesses are very popular. The five stalls in Yiu Tung Street are kept busy with diners eating noodle soups, seafood and dim sum. One of the adjacent blocks is set for redevelopment, which might force the stalls to relocate.

'We're just working until we can't any more,' one stall owner said. 'We don't know what will happen.'