Protesters said the Highways Department shut down lifts and locked the staircases of its office building in Kai Tak to prevent them from getting to its offices, Apple Daily reported Thursday.
A group led by Roy Tam Hoi-pong, president of environmental group Green Sense, and Democratic Party district councillor Ted Hui Chi-fung staged a protest Wednesday at the Trade and Industry Tower against the sudden axing of four Chinese banyan trees on Bonham Road on Friday last week.
The pair handed a petition to the Highways Department, requesting it to conduct a public consultation in the event of any proposals arising in future to cut down trees.
The group challenged the department to provide the grounds for chopping down the four trees and asked how many tree experts were present at the time it was done.
John Chan Hon-cheung, a senior architect in the department, accepted the letter of petition and said he fully understood how people feel toward the loss of trees they have been living with for such a long time.
However, Chan refused to say how many tree experts were present when the four trees were cut down.
Saying details will be given in a district council meeting later, he left the group without answering further questions.
The group then decided to go the offices of the department on the fifth floor for follow-up questions.
However, it discovered that the passenger lifts were shut down and the staircases were locked.
The protesters could only descend to the ground floor, where police officers were standing by.
Hui hit out at the department for refusing to offer explanations for its action.
He said the department first agreed to hold a meeting with the environmentalists but has now said it will comment on the matter only at a district council meeting on Aug. 27.
Tam said at least 500 people have signed up for a civil tree management organization.
He called for more participants to help file reports on the conditions of trees across different districts.
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