The government has been “agitated” by questioning over walkability projects in the wake of the death of a young woman on the streets of Soho last weekend, and may have deleted project records from its website after “questions and challenges”, according to a senior source with government connections.
Elodie Ma, 27, was walking with friends when an SUV rolled backwards down Peel Street and smashed into pedestrians on Staunton Street, killing Ma and injuring seven others.
The crowded Staunton Street district had been one area discussed for pedestrianisation under a $13.9 million “Walk in Hong Kong” project from 2017-2019.
But Transport Department (TD) was found to have deleted the project website, walk.hk, and, upon questioning, last week even deleted the contract from the “Contracts Awarded” section of its own website.
Transit Jam’s source says the department had been prickled by criticism.
“[Transport Department] is very sensitive, and is agitated by the questions and challenges. This could be the reason they removed all completed consultancy from their website,” said the source.
TD has again refused to answer more questions on the issue, including why the pedestrianisation plans stalled, why the project website and public consultation reports were deleted and why it has deleted the contract from its website.
Ten days after the deadly crash, nothing has changed in Soho.
A large SUV, with similar electronic handbrake to the Nissan Qashqai that rolled backwards last week, was parked illegally on the Peel Street slope, with wheels straight and the car pointing directly at the crash site.
“With the accident 10 days prior, the police and/or Transport Department might have put up some free-standing metal signs to not park there, made it very clear and obvious,” said a local resident sending in the pictures.
And garbage and other obstructions continue to block the narrow Staunton Street pavements day and night.
On the scene last Thursday, a police officer told this reporter that pedestrians were not allowed on the road in any circumstances, even when the pavement was blocked. “If there is an obstruction, you simply move it out of the way,” he said.