The long climb at Tseung Kwan O takes its toll Grave sweepers have called for an escalator to be built at the Tseung Kwan O Chinese Permanent Cemetery to save pilgrims, especially the elderly, from the long hike. The Democratic Party carried out a weekend survey near the cemetery on sweepers' views on improving road conditions and easing traffic. More than 90 per cent supported the party's push for building a 460-metre one-way escalator, estimated to cost $70 million, to ease the climb for an average 300,000 visitors each year. The existing path would serve as the exit. The cemetery's main access road has been closed except for emergency vehicles for years during Ching Ming, forcing visitors to make the steep hike up the hill. 'Tseung Kwan O Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Hong Kong. But it is also the most problematic,' said Sai Kung district councillor Zoe Phang Shuk-yee, who commissioned the survey. 'Emergency vehicles have to move between the crowds on a congested road. Poor co-ordination will threaten people's lives.' Ms Phang, a democrat, said the elderly and children often had difficulty walking up and down the congested route to pay their respects to loved ones. The cemetery has about 28,000 graves and most of its crematorium's 92,000 places are full. The hike starts at Yau Tong's Ko Chiu Road with a 15-minute slog on a cement road up a 40-degree slope, followed by more uphill turns and downhill walks. It takes at least half an hour for a healthy adult to reach the cemetery. The party has rejected a suggestion by the management board of the Chinese Permanent Cemeteries to build a footpath at the other end of the original uphill trail as the exit path. The cemetery, with its scenic view of Junk Bay and the Devil's Peak, has been notorious for its steep climb since it opened in 1989.