What is the Transport Department doing to protect our health and our future?

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 December, 2016, 4:51pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 December, 2016, 10:44pm

Air pollution is taking a heavy toll on our health. Although the Hong Kong government often trumpets the “polluter pays” policy, it is not enforced because the transport industry, the major source of street-level pollution, is not required to pay the medical costs incurred by the victims.

The Transport Department should enforce a tax on vehicles in proportion to their polluting effect, that is, according to the carcinogens they emit, and the time and distance on the road.

The technology for such monitoring is readily available and should be installed in every commercial vehicle.

This tax would eventually force businesses to cut back on pollution, while the revenue obtained would be donated to the victims of lung cancer and other diseases. It would also stimulate research into cleaner engines.

Another worthwhile project would be to award a big prize to the inventor who designs an electric tricycle with weather protection that could be used by anyone.

A tricycle is preferable to a motorcycle or scooter because it does not fall over when stopped. It has more storage space, causes minimal pollution, uses less parking space and can be quickly recharged. Will our power-generating companies rise to the challenge?

It is almost ludicrous to use a 1,200kg vehicle to transport a 60kg person when a small electric vehicle could do the same thing, be far less polluting and reduce traffic jams, another severe source of air pollution.

Of course, some may say that generating electricity also causes air pollution, but they should remember that it is not discharged directly into our lungs at street level, as happens with our outdated lorries and buses.

Political science teaches us that societies start to deteriorate when a wealthy minority benefits by neglecting the harm done to the majority.

History also teaches us that nations and cultures often died out when their environment failed due to climate change or wasted resources.

The transport industry of Hong Kong deserves to be strictly monitored and improved if we want our citizens to avoid diseases caused by air pollution. What is the Transport Department doing to protect our health and our future?

J. Geitner, Sham Shui Po