Thursday, December 01, 2011,Hong Kong Standard Diana Lee and Phila Siu
“Iconic” Fa Yuen Street should not be relocated but instead be improved to reduce fire risks, Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat-ngok said.
Chow said safety measures at the market have been strengthened since the last arson case almost exactly a year ago.
These include keeping the merchandise within a certain boundary and at a distance from surrounding buildings.
“For many in Hong Kong, Fa Yuen Street is an icon, a place for shopping. I don’t think we should replace it or make any significant changes,” Chow said.
“However, we are happy to study how to improve it.”
He said the government will step up prosecutions and meet Yau Tsim Mong councillors on making improvements.
Earlier, Democrat lawmaker James To Kun-sun suggested the market use makeshift stalls. There are about 2,700 fixed-pitch hawker stalls in Hong Kong, with about 28 for cooked food.
Iconic street markets include Li Yuen Street East and Stanley Street in Central, and Temple Street in Jordan.
Some 200 letters were sent to stall owners last month, warning them against placing goods beyond the demarcated boundary on pain of prosecution.
Chow said it is not known whether the fire has anything to do with non- compliance by stall owners, pending an investigation by the Fire Services Department and police.
District councillor Edward Leung Wai-kuen agreed makeshift stalls are not the solution, saying: “The installing and removal of stalls will create lots of noise, causing nuisance to neighbors upstairs.”
“Fixed stalls should fade out in the long run, but one should not drive their business out by demanding they change their style,” he added.
Fa Yuen Street Hawker Association chief Wong Pui-ching said: “It [fixed- stalls] was not our license requirement.”
Food and Environmental Hygiene director Clement Leung Cheuk-man said Fa Yuen Street vendors had been ordered to use fire-resistant materials on stalls and leave some space in between them.
He said the government has issued over 600 prosecution notices in the past 12 months and more than 200 since the middle of last month.
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