Councillor Paul Zimmerman has proposed a simple electric ferry instead of a bridge

The government’s newly released plans for Kai Tak development would breach the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance, says Southern District Council Vice Chair Paul Zimmerman, with a proposed bridge between Kai Tak and Ngau Tau Kok waterfront blocking access to a “large part of the typhoon shelter”.

The District Councillor and former Harbourfront Commission member has instead proposed a small flat-bottomed electric ferry to shuttle people across the typhoon shelter.

Electric ferries are becoming popular in the Netherlands, with this 400-passenger model requiring just three minutes’ recharging per return journey

Writing on Facebook, Zimmerman says the proposed low-level pedestrian and cycle bridge won’t work. “The alternative, a high bridge, is expensive, troublesome for pedestrians and cyclists to go over, and requires ugly infrastructure with huge footprints on either side of the water,” he wrote.

A ferry is “flexible, saves money, can be implemented quickly, and does not block the use of the typhoon shelter,” wrote Zimmerman.

One follower commented that a ferry may increase the carbon footprint of the installation and entail operational and financial risk.

“Indeed. All that needs to be addressed,” replied Zimmerman. “Not difficult. Except in HK where we find it easy to hire an engineer and pour concrete,” he wrote.

The government’s plans were laid before the Development Panel yesterday ahead of a discussion meeting planned for 26 January.

Officials last month revealed the government would kibosh a decade-old HK$12 billion monorail rail link proposal, citing difficulties in building a heavy monorail bridge across the typhoon shelter and instead preferring a “multi-modal” approach of electric minibuses, pedestrian travelators and a “Greenway Network” of pedestrian and cycling routes.

The government also says it will expand proposed water taxi services in the area to include stops at Kwun Tong and North Point, and build a so-called “elevated landscaped deck” from Kwun Tong Station to nearby developments.

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