Saturday, November 3, 2007

Hong Kong: Iding engine ban

The Hong Kong government has been releasing press releases these two days about a proposal to ban idling vehicle engines. It has launched a five-month public consultation on its proposal and is aiming to implement this policy in mid-2009.

The proposal suggests if drivers do not switch off the vehicles' engines when they are idle, they will be served with HK$320 (US$41) fixed-penalty tickets. With the number of complaints against idling vehicles increasing from 238 in 2002 to 501 in 2006, the Government is also considering issuing warning letters to those drivers upon receiving public complaints.

According to the Secretary for the Environment, Edward Yau, vehicles are the second-largest source of air pollution in Hong Kong, contributing to 25% of respirable suspended particulates and nitrogen oxides.

Yau agreed that certain old turbo engine models require an idling time before being switched off or their lifespan will be shortened. The Government is consulting local vehicle importers to investigate which models should be granted exemption. The following are some of the possible exemptions:

* Vehicles stopped roadside for boarding or alighting
* The first two taxis or minibuses at a passenger stand
* Taxis, minibuses or buses boarding and alighting passengers at designated stops
* Special traffic conditions, such as traffic jams
* Security transit for armoured, disciplinary and emergency vehicles
* Vehicles required to run engines for ancillary purposes, like refrigerator trucks
* Vehicles engaged in a parade or events authorised by the Transport Department

The air pollution is certainly a concern in Hong Kong and I'm glad to see that the government has solid plans to improve the air quality for its citizens. When I was walking to the MTR (subway) station to go to work every day, I had to keep a handkerchief with me so I could cover my mouth from the exhaust fumes and cigarettes smell from people who smoked while they were walking. It was extremely annoying.

This ban might cause some inconvenience and discomfort to the drivers and passengers, but we have to take care of the environment and the overall interest of the public. It is time to take care of "us" instead of "me".

Click the picture below if you want to report pollution in Hong Kong.

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