Noisy HK drives people up the wall
WITH its pounding construction sites and the constant roar of traffic, Hong Kong is a cacophony of noise, with experts and residents calling on the authorities to keep a lid on the din for the sake of public health.
In this densely-packed city with a shortage of housing, older buildings are frequently torn down and replaced, as developers snap up prime real estate. On the roads, the battle between buses, trams and cars is waged over the piercing, continual drone of car horns.
For banker Kenny Chen, 35, the last 15 months have been a nightmare. The area around his apartment block in the upmarket central Mid-Levels neighbourhood has been surrendered to juddering construction sites.
"My wife had twins a month ago. She was on maternity leave at home but, because of all the noise, she became very anxious and, possibly, the babies did too. She ended up giving birth 21/2 months early."
In 2011, the government included the effects of noise for the first time in its regular Thematic Household Survey Report. The results showed that 36 per cent of people suffered noise disturbance at home.
Hong Kong police received more than 45,000 noise-related complaints last year, while the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) receives around 5,000 a year.
The EPD figure has decreased slightly over the past decade. The department admitted, however, that more than a million residents are exposed at home to traffic noise over the government's 70-decibel guideline, which is also the World Health Organisation's recommended limit.