A modern fire engine has been standing in Cheung Chau's fire station for seven years because work to widen the roads so it can drive round the island has been blocked by residents. The engine, with a hydraulic platform, a pump, and a water tank, is a standard vehicle at urban stations. It is supposed to supplement the station's four golfcart-size mini-fire engines and ambulances. The Government plans to clear about 20 grocery and food stalls along Tung Wan Road - the main link between the east and west of Cheung Chau. On completion, it will allow the fire engine access to Cheung Chau Hospital and the helicopter pad on the east coast. The alley will be widened to 3.5 metres - the minimum width for the vehicle, says the Fire Services Department. But a deadlock in negotiations with villagers has held up the project and the vehicle is confined to the 1,000-metre promenade on the west coast of the island. Cheung Chau Rural Committee chairman Fung Pak-tai condemned the project as 'dumping taxpayers' money into the sea'. 'There has never been a major emergency on Cheung Chau over the past three decades and the small size of the island and congestion-free paths has enabled the mini-fire engines to reach the locations quickly. 'Residents can usually manage to put out fires themselves before firemen arrive,' said Mr Fung. Last year, the island's firefighters answered 72 fire calls and 21 rescue calls. The department's marine and offshore assistant divisional officer, Claudio Cho Tat-fai, said a full-size fire engine was necessary to cope with the growth of Cheung Chau.