Officials did great job greening urban areas of Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 July, 2016, 12:18am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 July, 2016, 5:38pm

I must tip my hat in gratitude to our civil servants at the Transport Department.

Were it not for their thoughtful circular, posted to me three months ahead of the expiry date of my driver’s licence (I did not know about the date), I would have forfeited the right to drive and would have had to undergo the theory and practical tests to have my permit renewed.

Thanks to the circular, I avoided that and discovered that the licence renewal application process at the department’s office is a model of clockwork efficiency. Despite many people waiting at the counters, I was done within the hour and treated with courtesy by staff.

Leaving aside all questions of politics, I find that too often we residents take for granted the fact that we are served by one of the world’s most proficient administrations and the world’s best organised public transport system. This encourages my frequent use of buses. From the vantage point of an upper deck seat, one cannot but be impressed by the profusion of landscape improvements that Hong Kong has undergone.

The greening of Hong Kong Island, which had long been derided as a “barren rock”, began back in 1871 with the appointment of a superintendent of public gardens. Charles Ford oversaw the planting on Victoria Island of more than 20,000 trees a year.

This process has been industriously pursued by the greening, landscape and tree management section, which has brought about noticeable improvements in our urban greenery.

Today there is no triangle of vacant space along the entire route from the Exchange Square bus terminus to Deep Water Bay that hasn’t been freshened and embellished with vegetation.

There has also been a policy change with citizens now allowed on mowed lawns that used to be protected by fencing.

It’s a pleasure today to see children chasing balloons on the botanical gardens’ lawns, and yoga classes and families having snacks on the lawns of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park in Sai Ying Pun.

Along with this rejuvenation of the urban environment has come an improvement in air quality. After the suffocating haze of recent years, which saw many leave the city, we are again enjoying bright blue skies over Hong Kong.

All that remains to be tackled is the incessant and inconsiderate honking of vehicles in urban areas, and the need to tighten enforcement of idling car engines, which continue to run with impunity.

Frank Fischbeck, Central