After my views on the ongoing 4½ year “Hiram’s Highway Improvement” Stage 1 project apparently fell on deaf ears (or were filed by readers in their “Hong Kong is going down the toilet” box), I wondered whether to follow-up with Stage 2 or not.
Well, putting it simply, the government plan to push on with Stage 2 of their project to tear up Hiram’s Highway and its surrounding hillsides, gardens and trees and demolish the “quaint” roadside structures in Hebe Haven (and half the yacht club dining room) to make way for their beloved dual-carriageway (see photos below).
Originally, a short tunnel under the hillside from the Stage 1 Pak Wai roundabout emerging in Tai Chung Hau or a long tunnel emerging in Sha Ha had been an option but they are now determined on the financially cheaper (they claim environmentally less destructive!!) option, the “vehicle is king” dual carriageway.
Whereas a tunnel would save most of Hiram’s Highway and Hebe Haven itself from destruction, and create a pleasant road for continuing local access, their plans will blight Sai Kung for more than a decade and probably result in a multi-lane car park all the way into Sai Kung Town once finished.
As I said last time, our new Chief Executive has promised that:
“The new administration will work harder to reach out to the community and listen to people’s concerns” and
“You really have to think out of the box and to identify other ways to do the same thing, instead of doing it time and again in the same manner.”
So perhaps the government can still be persuaded to listen to the views of Sai Kung residents and visitors and revise their plans to lessen the damage to what they still refer to as “The Back Garden or Leisure Garden of Hong Kong”:
“Sai Kung is Hong Kong’s “Back Garden” where Hong Kong people from all districts come to enjoy the beautiful countryside…”
George Ng, Chairman SKDC
“Sai Kung is well known for its outstanding scenery – scenic rural landscape with mountain backdrop, long and indented coastline and numerous outlying islands. It is called “the Leisure Garden of Hong Kong” serving the recreational demand of a large portion of the population in the territory.”
I am told that visitor numbers are already falling off as far as Sai Kung Town is concerned; perhaps it will be commercial interests that eventually wake-up and realise that this is a really bad plan and that these billions of dollars would be better spent on improving traffic flow with some sensible engineering options, building park and ride facilities on either side of Sai Kung Town and pedestrianising the town on weekends and public holidays.