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Ageing society

Will Hong Kong’s elderly get promised lift before reaching stairway to heaven?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 July, 2018, 6:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 July, 2018, 9:00pm

Our government is determinedly pushing forward plans to improve the housing situation, and boost the economy as well as the livelihood of Hong Kong people. But things of apparently lesser concern should not be trivialised, as these too can affect the lives of many thousands.

As early as 2009, the government put out a set of objectives to assess proposals to build escalator and lift systems to facilitate commuting for residents of uphill areas. Of the 20 proposals, 18 were ranked for technical feasibility studies after screening.

That was in 2010. However, to the dismay of many, only three out of the 18 projects proposed have so far been completed.

Some of them are still stuck at the initial study stage and, even if approved, may well take more than a decade to be completed, and this includes the lift and pedestrian walkway system between Saddle Ridge Garden and Sai Sha Road in Ma On Shan, which is ranked 16th in priority out of the 18 proposals.

I live near Saddle Ridge Garden and my many observations tell me that elderly people have to contend with more than a hundred steps, in the rain or sun, when heading down to the Ma On Shan town centre before climbing back up to get home.

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It’s common sense that walking uphill consumes more energy, especially for old people. So, after walking downhill to the mall to the doctor’s or to access other services or amenities, bracing for the homebound trip often finds the elderly in a real turmoil, especially if the weather is bad.

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I have talked to a few senior residents there, and they are really concerned about meeting with an accident while walking up and down the steps. However, they are not hopeful at all about seeing the lift project completed soon, because that would first involve a long process of intense studies, assessments, designs and so on, before the actual construction can take place.

I, together with my friends and neighbours at Saddle Ridge Garden, will keep our fingers crossed for a long life, while hoping our government will shorten the study period, so that we can cheerfully witness the emerging of the lifts, well before the stairway to heaven.

Randy Lee, Ma On Shan