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Friday, August 5, 2016, 18:09

Columbarium plan draws ire

By Dara Wang

HONG KONG - District councilors and community representatives are up in arms over a plan to turn a warehouse in Chai Wan into a columbarium.

In letters submitted to the Town Planning Board (TPB) on Friday, they expressed strong opposition to a proposal by Kerry Logistics Network to convert the warehouse on Ka Yip Street into a 15-story private columbarium.

Under its plan unveiled in February last year, the company said it would offer 120,000 niches, but later reduced the number to 82,000 following strong protests from residents in the neighborhood.

A public consultation exercise on the proposed project ends on Friday, with the TPB having received more than 10,000 letters opposed to the plan so far, citing concerns over traffic congestion that might occur during grave-sweeping festivals.

Kerry Logistics has offered to introduce free shuttle bus services from Heng Fa Chuen and Quarry Bay MTR stations, as well as preregistered appointments, to help solve the traffic congestion problem.

Lawmaker Kwok Wai-keung of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions argued that a columbarium with more than 80,000 niches would attract more than 8,000 visitors in an hour, and the number of daily visitors could exceed 100,000.

Apart from the 200,000 existing niches in Chai Wan, Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and also a member of Central and Western District Council, said there are already adequate niches in the neighborhood with some 9,000 public niches coming on stream in the district by the end of this year, and another 20,000 to 30,000 niches in two to three years.

A poll conducted by the DAB last month shows that more than 77 percent of Chai Wan residents are against the columbarium plan.

Charles Suen, who lives near the warehouse, said he sees little benefit the columbarium can offer. "A private operator usually charges more than HK$100,000 for a niche. It’s still too expensive for me. I think the proposed columbarium will only create traffic jams and disturb my daily life," he said.

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