Rai Arlin L, 18, University of Hong Kong
Blue sea and a wonderful sea breeze by the harbour – what a wonderful view, isn’t it? However, that’s not really the reality of the situation. The harbour is polluted with rubbish; pieces of plastic wrappings and other items floating in the sea; a layer of grease coating the once clean water turning the water a murky colour from all the pollution from the fuels used in the ferries that use the harbour and the polluted air that make it difficult to breathe. One way to stop this from worsening would be to stop the star ferry services.
Let me start of by saying that removing the star ferry services is not the only solution, but it is part of a series of changes that have to be made to protect our harbour. Hong Kong’s ferries are known as some of the most polluting ferries in the world, according to Hong Kong Pollution Watch (HKPW), because they use fuel that is very high in sulphur. This releases a lot of dark fumes, which are bad for public health and even worse for the employees who work on the ferries. This is especially bad for the ferries which anchor at Central Pier No 7, because the slanted roof essentially acts as a funnel, capturing all the fumes from the low-grade fuel and channelling them into the viewing area – and the lungs of passengers and staff.
But pollution isn’t the only reason the star ferry services should be stopped. Water pollution caused by ferries affects both marine life and water quality. Sure, household sewage , industrial waste and land reclamation are also responsible, but ferry services only add to the problem. Ferry services also bring with them the added disadvantage of inconsiderate passengers who throw their rubbish into the sea.
Sure, the star ferry services are part of our collective memory and a highlight of Hong Kong, but is it worth the damage it is doing to our environment and the harbour itself?
Veronica Lin, 16, Hong Kong International School
Removing the star ferry services should not even be an option due its essential function as a mode of transport, as well as its cultural and historical significance in the city.
For starters, unless you have a helicopter or a private jet (which most of us don’t), the only way to cross the harbour is by taking the MTR, the Cross Harbour Tunnels or the star ferries. Although Victoria Harbour can seem busy at times, removing the ferry services would drastically add to traffic congestion in other areas.
According to the city’s Transport Department, around 250,000 vehicles cross Victoria Harbour by land each day. And if you’ve ever taken the MTR at rush hour, you’ll know how much of a crush it is.
Moreover, at HK$2.5-HK$3.4 for an adult, the cheap fare is one of the most appealing things about the star ferry services. In fact, it’s almost a quarter of the price of the MTR or the bus, making it the cheapest way to cross the harbour.
Apart from the fact that it’s inexpensive, fast and practical, the star ferry services play an important in role in the culture and history of Hong Kong. The Star Ferry, rated as one of the “50 places of a lifetime” by National Geographic, is not only a huge tourist attraction, but also an excellent way for residents to relax and escape the chaos of the city.
The star ferries are an irreplaceable part of Hong Kong culture and something we can’t afford to lose.