The manager of a Kowloon Bay car body shop has accused the Highways Department of killing his business by installing metal bollards in front of three of his shop's four entrances, preventing cars from driving through for a wash or tune-up. Lam Kam-wing (pictured), of Car Beautician, recently saw government workers digging up the pavement in front of the shop, on a corner in an industrial block next to the Kwun Tong Bypass. They said that they were installing bollards on the orders of the Highways Department, which had received a complaint about cars blocking the pavement. The bollards were meant to make the footpath safer for pedestrians by clearing it of parked cars. But they might have actually made it more dangerous. Now, instead of driving cars straight through the shop for a wash or tune-up, drivers must back them out into oncoming traffic. 'We've had to triple our workload,' said Lam, the shop's manager for the past five years. The extra time needed to work on cars has turned away customers. Since the bollards were installed, Car Beautician's business has dropped from 150 cars per day to fewer than 60. 'We'll have to close the shop,' Lam said. 'Twenty people work here and another 80 at our other locations around town, but this is the only branch making much profit. If this goes, all of our jobs go with it.' A spokeswoman for the Highways Department said that the government had received complaints for several years about illegal parking in front of Car Beautician. Recently, she said, the situation had worsened, 'causing obstruction to traffic and endangering safety'. Consultation was conducted through the Kwun Tong district office in December and the bollards were installed at a cost of HK$3,000. But Lam said he was not informed that the bollards would be installed. 'I'm thinking they just want us to close shop,' he said. 'We've been here 21 years and have never heard any complaints until now.' He said that fewer than 200 pedestrians passed the shop every day, a number that dropped to fewer than 20 on Sundays and holidays. Robert Thomson, a Sai Kung resident who owns three cars and visits the shop every week, said: 'It reeks of sheer bloody-mindedness. 'Sure, it's not the right of the tenant there to make use of the pavement to park vehicles, but it's a big sweeping corner with a mass of pavement that isn't being used. 'I don't know why the government would waste so much money just to spite this one business.' Walter Chan Ping-hung, a Chinese University associate professor of architecture who recently co-wrote government guidelines on acceptable use of public space, said Hong Kong businesses, from dai pai dong to greengrocers, had a tradition of spilling onto the pavement. He suggests allowing a certain amount of public space to be occupied for commercial use, depending on the situation. 'It's reasonable to accommodate this kind of spilling out from businesses into the street,' he said. 'But there needs to be a limit to what is acceptable.'