The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) is facing criticism over what it believed was improvement work done on a natural trail in Tuen Mun.
The department recently undertook a project that saw rubber pads being laid on stone steps on a section of a trail in Kau Keng Shan near the Lam Tei Reservoir.
The government agency said the exercise was aimed at making it safer and easier for hikers, but the claims left many people unimpressed.
Critics slammed the project as a case of misplaced priorities, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported, pointing to chatter in online forums.
Photos posted online showed dozens of stone steps covered with rubber pads in the natural trail which is part of the Tai Lam Country Park.
The AFCD, which builds and maintains the steps, explained that the pads were recycled from used ones in the gyms and were meant to make walking on them easier for elderly hikers.
The pads will protect the steps and also provide shock-absorbing and anti-slip functions, it said.
The move is experimental and there is no plan to do similar work at other trails, the department said.
However, many people felt that it was a case of wasteful use of public funds.
Rather than cover the stone steps, the AFCD should have focused on solving water problems at restrooms in the city’s country parks, netizens said.
One commentator mocked the government department for its work on the stone steps, saying that it might as well build an escalator for hikers.
Meanwhile, some people expressed concern that the pads might allow water to accumulate and create an environment for mosquitoes to breed.
Tam Chun-yin, a member of the Tuen Mun District Council who goes hiking on nearby Tuen Mun trail from time to time, said the pads do not fit in with the natural environment.
He said he will raise the issue at a council meeting following the negative feedback from the public.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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