Date
17 November 2017
More than 1,000 noise complaints have been received so far this year about Mong Kok's pedestrian zone. However, only 2 percent of the cases have been prosecuted. Photo: Internet
More than 1,000 noise complaints have been received so far this year about Mong Kok's pedestrian zone. However, only 2 percent of the cases have been prosecuted. Photo: Internet

Govt urged to tackle noise problems at Mong Kok pedestrian zone

Mong Kok’s pedestrian zone has become a source of noise pollution complaints, with over 1,000 received so far this year, but only 2 percent of the cases have been prosecuted, Apple Daily reports.

After the Transport Department restricted the opening hours of the pedestrian zone to weekends and public holidays in 2014, the number of complaints dropped to less than 700 in 2015.

However, with more singers and performers using the zone, the number of complaints went up to 1,224 in 2016.

There were 1,006 complaints in the first eight months this year, of which only 21 cases were prosecuted.

Chow Bok-yin, a committee member of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, said the performance levels in the pedestrian area are very “unstable” and these are a source of noise pollution for many.

Some street performances in foreign countries require a license or a judging process prior their performance. Some places require performers to do certain courses to understand the relevant regulations.

And some countries have laws regulating the distance between each performer.

There have been proposals to kill off the pedestrian zone but Chow said the move would be too radical.

He said there should be a reasonable regulatory system on the use of public space, adding that the problem now is lack of clear guidelines.

This has led to problems such as those relating to famous Japanese performer Mr. Wally who was stopped by the authorities from performing while others were allowed to continue.

Law Siu-hung from the Yau Tsim Mong District Council said the quality of performances is unimpressive and there is concern about the performers blocking storefronts.

Law said the government should consider shifting these performances to a more suitable venue.

Legislator Peter Shiu Ka-fai said some of the loudspeakers the performers use reach 80 decibels, affecting nearby shops and employees.

However, Shiu said the government should keep the pedestrian zone open while increasing law enforcement.

Although the volume of these performances is regulated by law, there is no specific regulation on how many decibels are acceptable.

Among the 1,006 noise complaints recorded between January and August, police officers have arrived at the scene to issue verbal warnings.

The Transport Department said it would conduct further consultations with local communities if the District Council proposes any changes to the pedestrian zone.

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EL/BN/RA

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