Hikers have complained against excessive safety measures such as the construction of a concrete staircase and the placement of more rubber mats on the steps of the Tuen Mun Trail in the New Territories.

Rubber mats on concrete staircases at the Tuen Mun trail. Photo: So So Cheng via Facebook.

A Facebook user posted photos on Sunday, saying: “After the concretisation of hiking trails, it’s evolved to rubber mats. Do you agree?”

The post attracted over 100 comments, with one saying: “Why not make an escalator, and while you’re at it build a mall as well…”

Another said: “This is excessive, it is a waste of public funds – if you complain, then don’t hike.”

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department told HKFP that the “if the mountain trail has severe soil erosion or if the terrain is overly steep, the department will consider pouring concrete or building steps, so that hikers’ safety can be protected and soil erosion can be stopped.” It added that the Tuen Mun trail had faced severe soil erosion previously and the concrete steps were built in 2014.

Rubber mats. Photo: So So Cheng via Facebook.

It said that it put mats on the steps after “some elderly people said that walking on the stone staircases was relatively difficult,” adding that the mats can absorb vibration and prevent slipping.

The department also said that the mats were only a pilot [programme] and there are no plans to implement them on other trails.”

A petition-hike, named “Guided ‘Un-Eco’ Tour,” against the concretisation of hiking trails is to be held on July 16. The organisers said on its Facebook page that they will “present a petition letter to the [Home Affairs District Office], followed by a group hike to Tao Fong Shan,” as well as educate participants on the current status of concretisation on the mountain and its effects.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.