Drivers cannot afford cleaner trucks

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 3:03am

Despite massive reductions in the emission of major air pollutants by power plants, roadside pollution has worsened as vehicles and ships crank out more nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide than they ever have before.

One of the main culprits is the huge numbers of old, diesel-powered trucks that are still being used in our city.

These trucks fit the Euro II emission standards that were introduced more than a decade ago, and they give off much more pollutants than their costlier, cleaner substitute models.

The reason that so many of these outdated trucks are still around is that their owners can't afford to get a new one.

Truck drivers aren't exactly in the upper strata, and the rising cost of living means that they have even less disposable income.

Whether or not their vehicles produce harmful pollutants that damage living standards for Hong Kong citizens is the least of their concerns.

While tougher licensing would obviously reduce the number of trucks on the road, such a measure is nothing but simply sweeping the problem under the carpet.

The real issue that needs to be dealt with is the fact that we still have obsolete vehicles on our roads, even though better models are readily available for purchase.

We need those trucks gone for good, and having the owners replace them is a sure solution.

The only thing that is preventing that from happening is that drivers don't have the funds to get a new truck.

A subsidy will solve this problem, but the actual subsidy itself must be carefully calculated and assessed so that it does not interfere too much in the free market.

We need to provide these people with whatever they need to replace their trucks, if we are to have any chance of losing our reputation as a "polluted wasteland".

William McCorkindale, Ma On Shan