Two absurd-looking rain shelters in Quarry Bay that cost HK$210,000 in public money were quietly removed on Wednesday after drawing widespread criticism for failing to protect people from rain.
The project was proposed by Eastern District Councillor and DAB member Eddie Ting Kong-ho in 2013. According to Stand News, Ting said he had “nothing to do” with the removal, as the Home Affairs Bureau was charged with the management of the shelters. He confirmed that the bureau had received “opinions from the local community” earlier.
The rain shelters were originally placed at the bus stops, which were not covered, on King’s Road. But their chunky bases took up most of the space and made it difficult for pedestrians to stand underneath the roof.
After receiving complaints about the ineffectiveness of the shelters, authorities relocated them to the quieter Hoi Tai Street. According to a report in Stand News, a Quarry Bay resident said that the street is rarely used.
The shelters were first estimated to cost HK$330,ooo, but the project eventually received HK$210,000 from the government.
The “rain shelters that don’t shelter” quickly became a subject of ridicule on the Internet when netizens posted a picture of them and questioned the use of public money on two unserviceable structures.
Ting reportedly said that he had consulted residents before submitting the proposal to the government for funding. According to Ting, none of the respondents objected to the proposal.
Many netizens who identified themselves as residents of Quarry Bay said they had never been consulted by Ting’s office.
In his proposal, Ting wrote that he expected 2000 people to benefit from the rain shelters. But comments on the Internet and interviewees in local media coverage suggest that few had used the rain shelters for the purpose for which they were built.
Ting said in his defence that the actual product “obviously did not match” the original design, and asked netizens not to make “incorrect criticism”. He said that the differences between the design and the actual product were “against his will”.
Despite complaints, Ting proposed in March this year that seats be built underneath the rain shelters, but without stating the estimated cost.
The incident highlights the neglected issue of financial mismanagement and lack of public consultation at the district level. Media reports have suggested that some district councillors had misused public money to advance their own political or economic interests.
District Councils have long been dominated by pro-Beijing political parties and are seen as a key area in which political parties build their support base. The next District Council elections are scheduled to take place this November.
The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong is the largest political party in the territory, with 13 seats in the Legislative Council and 132 seats in the District Councils. Currently, 25 of its members sit on China’s top political advisory body.