We want our share of the harbour

 
 

Early July, the issue of our interminable berthing shortage made Legco. The Honourable Frankie Yick questioned Secretary for Transport & Housing, Frank Chan, on the demand and supply of berthing for yachts by district, on how many yachts there were total, on government plans for additional berthing, on demarcated berthing areas for yachts in typhoon shelters and on the floating bridges (surely he means barges?) that anchor and then (horrors) charge yacht owners for rafting up?

Yick is under pressure from commercial operators who want prime harbour space for their construction barges, cranes and other unsightly equipment. Yick says he worries that the tugs, lighters and workboats will get bashed about by the growing number of pleasure vessels now appearing in typhoon shelters.

Chan replied by giving facts and figures. Year end 2016, for example, there were 7,231 licensed Class IV (pleasure) vessels under 35 feet, 1,758 under 60 feet, 704 under 100, and 55 exceeding 100. Total 9,748.

The overall total of licensed vessels — ferries, workboats, tugs, fishing boats, sampans, the lot — is 18,540. So, pleasure vessels are in the majority (52%). Yes, of course, you can’t compare a runabout with a floating restaurant but the growing numbers are significant for a small place like Hong Kong.

Take 2012’s figures: 5,677 under 35 feet, 1,619 under 60, 595 under 100, and 39 over 100. Total 7,920.

(Visit http://www. info.gov.hk/gia/general/201707/05/ P2017070400914.htm — makes an interesting read.)

Chan added: ‘To ensure that operational vessels can find berthing space in typhoon shelters during typhoons or inclement weather despite increased demand from PVs, MarDep is considering the possibility of designating a specific area in Kwun Tong Typhoon Shelter for exclusive mooring of non-PVs through administrative means on a trial basis.

Ah, yes, non-PVs in an area the government wants gentrified, rejuvenated, the next CBD and so on. Just look at the situation in To Kwa Wan on the other side of the runway. Rusting, ugly hulks everywhere. The same is sure to happen in Kwun Tong Typhoon Shelter . . . like Hong Kong’s unwanted bicycles, chained to railings and fences.

But then he says: ‘In addition, MarDep is considering temporary private mooring areas in typhoon shelters with lower utilisation rates (ie. Hei Ling Chau Typhoon Shelter and Yim Tin Tsai Typhoon Shelter) for use by local vessels (including PVs). MarDep is also considering expanding three existing private mooring areas in Tso Wo Hang, Tai Mei Tuk and Shuen Wan Hoi. These measures would provide about 1,200 additional private moorings in total, which could help alleviate the keen demand for some typhoon shelters.

Thanks, but no thanks, Mr Chan. We want, and have asked for over and over again, Kwun Tong Typhoon Shelter. It’s a no-brainer to have it used for recreational purposes, and craft. To Kwa Wan can be the obligatory shelter for working craft. Hei Ling Chau can take all the abandoned vessels. Yim Tin Tsai — better to give it to the Jockey Club.

And, no, MarDep. We don’t want any more consultation, we want our share of the harbour — pleasure vessels do matter.

 
 
 
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