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High-speed broadband access in the villages, and Sai Kung Market upgrades: Two subjects discussed this week by District Council

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Sai Kung Market   Photo: Wan King Path

Two items of interest to our Sai Kung readers were on the agenda of the recent Sai Kung District Council meeting, held on 7 November 2017.

The first concerns the provision of high-speed broadband in the villages out of town. Five councillors – Philip Li Ka Lueng, Hiew Moo Siew, Cheung Kwok Keung, Peter Lau Wai Cheung, and Yau Luk Yun, proposed a motion that :

“We urge the government to extend the fibre optic network to villages in the area as soon as possible to achieve full coverage”.

As quoted from their  background to the motion, the new government has proposed that it will promote the expansion of fibre-optic networks to rural and remote areas to further enhance high-speed fixed broadband network coverage. At present, coverage of broadband networks in most parts of rural Sai Kung is inadequate. The network speed is slow and unstable. They give the examples of Nam Shan Village, Sha Kok Mei Village, Pak Wai, Pak Tam Chung and Lung Mei Village. To this end, they urge the government to extend the fibre optic network to rural areas within the district as soon as possible to achieve full coverage.

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Will we ever see a sight like this in Sai Kung’s villages? Photo: F4RN

The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau’s response was:

To note that Members supported the subsidy programme proposed by the government. Since the Chief Executive announced the relevant measures in her “Policy Address”, the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) has started to plan concrete arrangements for the implementation of the plan. The villages in Sai Kung will be covered in that plan. In order to better understand the distribution of remote villages in Sai Kung District in order to implement the details of the coverage and implementation details of the subvented scheme, OFCA plans to consult the Sai Kung District Council on the relevant issues in the first half of 2018. We hope that we will get the support of our legislators and listen to everyone’s valuable opinions”.

The second motion of interest concerns the upgrade of facilities at Sai Kung Market. The motion

We call for improving the existing public markets in downtown Sai Kung,
including speeding up the installation of air conditioners and installing lifts”,

was proposed by Philip Li Ka Leung, Chung Yuen Tung, Sing Hon Keung,  Peter Lau Wai Cheung, and Hiew Moo Siew. They note that

The environmental problems of the public markets have always been a subject of concern to all previous governments. The new government has said it will allocate resources to enhance the environment of the existing public markets. At present, there are inadequate facilities and environmental degradation in the public markets in downtown Sai Kung.

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Sai Kung Market   Photo: Mapio

As examples, they state that the lifts and escalators have been  repaired recently, but they have still failed from time to time in recent months, causing residents inconvenience. In addition, the lack of air-conditioners in the markets and the poor ventilation system make the residents extremely hot, and making the food spoil.

To this end, they strongly urge the government to expedite the improvement of the existing downtown public markets in Sai Kung as soon as possible, including speeding up the installation of air-conditioners and installing lifts to meet the residents’ demands for many years”.

The response of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department was:

To cater for day-to-day operations, there are one lift and five stairways in the market in Sai Kung. It is open to the public and stalls during the opening hours of the market. There is one escalator, recently upgraded, available to facilitate members of the public going to the first floor of the market from the market ground floor. In addition, Sai Kung Market also has a mechanical ventilation system to enhance market ventilation through ventilation equipment (including ceiling fans, wall fans, ventilation pipes connected to air supply/extraction fans).

“The Department has always been concerned about the use and safety of lifts and escalator elevators in Sai Kung market and has arranged regular routine inspections. Whenever a fault is found, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) will immediately notify the EMSD to follow up and carry out emergency repairs. Most routine inspections and maintenance work can be completed or repaired and put into operation immediately to reduce the impact on the public and stall users. In addition, we have consulted the Architectural Services Department on the feasibility of adding lifts and escalator elevators to Sai Kung Market. However, it is not feasible for the Architectural Services Department to respond to the architectural design of the market and to add lifts and escalators in the markets.

“Starting from July 2015, the government reduced the threshold of tenant support for installing air-conditioners in the market from 85% to 80%. For example, if the markets are sufficiently large enough to support the installation of air-conditioners, the feasibility study will also start. The Department conducted a questionnaire survey on the installation of air-conditioners in Sai Kung Market in early 2016 and found that only 56.94% of the respondents supported it. Therefore, we do not plan to install air-conditioners in this market”.

1 Comment on High-speed broadband access in the villages, and Sai Kung Market upgrades: Two subjects discussed this week by District Council

  1. Paul Hodgson // 17 November 2017 at 2:49 PM // Reply

    It was good to read that the subject of inadequate internet service to the Sai Kung area has risen its head again, with the district council are now getting behind the up-grade of the internet service in the rural Sai Kung areas like the Country Park. This has been a long time happening.

    It is a sad truth that most of the needed optical fibre cable was laid a while back but data traffic limitations at the key termination nodes of Sai Kung and Ma On Shan has delayed the activation. So locations along the route from Sai Kung out to Hoi Ha, for example, have had cable installed for eons but it cannot be totally commissioned for full speed until the other end can handle the data. Other areas are in a similar situation.

    Clearly lots of people in the area have been working hard to see this digital divide crossed. The Professional Commons, especially the ProComms legislators, have been pressuring the government for many years to get the Service Providers to up-grade the necessary terminal equipment and fix this. They have had some success with the Government acknowledging the issue, especially the fact that typhoon damage can cut remote places off entirely allowing for no telephone, mobile, internet, radio or television service. These times are when communication is most needed.

    But, as usual, the problem boils down to money. The small number of potential customers distributed over the large area makes for a difficult sustainable profit based business model for the providers. It is hoped that the recent promises of the HK SAR Government especially those of our new CE, Mrs Carrie Lam, are implemented quickly with regards to providing the necessary financial assistance to solve this. The now months old applications in some villages to run optical fibre ducts from the main village termination points to individual houses is a very encouraging sign this may be finally happening, even with new operators investigating the infrstructure, but this is only the case in some villages. This needs to spread virally (pardon the pun).

    Given the announcement that the district council is now getting involved, it is more important than ever that all of the groups, including ProComms, step up their pressure on the Government to solve this necessary infrastructure improvement in our area.

    Paul Hodgson.

    Like

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