Failed attempt to report idling engine

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 November, 2012, 2:58am

I refer to the report ("Watchdog slams city's battle on pollution", November 15) and the article by Jason Wordie ("Bad air days", November 18) about air pollution in Hong Kong.

We are all aware that existing measures to curb emissions are not doing the trick.

The Audit Commission is right to highlight necessary measures to combat worsening pollution levels.

However, when we know that a sizeable portion of the problem is caused locally, perhaps we should all consider what we can do to alleviate our own suffering in the meantime.

The Statutory Ban against Idling of Motor Vehicle Engines came into effect in December 2011. It means that idling your engine for more than three minutes in any 60-minute period is prohibited.

While this sounds like a silver lining to the cloud of pollution, in reality, it means that the fixed penalty of HK$320 can only be enforced if a traffic warden or environmental protection inspector is around to time the infraction.

Recently, when my husband and I called the police to report a car idling near our home (for more than 10 minutes as we choked on fumes while waiting for public transport, after asking the driver first and being rebuffed), we realised there is no process to report cars and drivers that flout the ban.

We heard back from the police days later, asking for the vehicle's location.

Baffled, we asked if they expected the vehicle reported two days ago to still be idling in the same spot. They explained that there are not enough traffic wardens or inspectors to get to reported locations soon after reports.

Evidently, attempting to report idling infractions doesn't work. Neither does the ban because nobody takes it seriously. There aren't enough officials to enforce it, nor is the fine heavy enough.

I urge car owners and drivers to take this issue seriously and turn engines off. Idling wastes petrol and is ruining our health. Idling is making it impossible to take in the beauty of our otherwise green city.

If you are concerned about having to turn your air conditioner off, drive around the block instead of waiting and idling, or park and go inside one of our inordinately air-conditioned buildings. Keep the air clean, save money and save fuel - what is there to lose?

Sai Pradhan, Western district