The government has postponed plans to evict homeless people sleeping at the Kwun Tong Public Pier on Friday.
The Lands Department posted orders at the pier at the end last month. Eleven homeless people were staying at the pier during a week when temperatures plunged across the city.
But the Transport Department said on Thursday that the operation has been halted, after concerns were raised by NGOs.
The Department said joint actions were conducted in the past to urge street sleepers to leave and to arrange assistance for solving their living situations. Such actions were successful in maintaining a clean environment and the normal operation of the pier facilities.
It added that the action on Friday was planned as homeless people staying at the pier were again affecting environmental hygiene.
“The Department received concerns about recent unstable weather and the time needed to find residences, urging the Department to postpone the joint action. After discussing and considering the relevant concerns, the Department has decided to reschedule the clearance action,” it said. It did not state when the clearance may now take place.
The Department also said it has given blankets to homeless people. People in need may also go to temporary cold shelters.
But one of the street sleepers at the pier said the nearest government cold-weather shelter in Lam Tin was too far to walk and located on a hill.
Ng Wai-tung of the Society for Community Organisation told HKFP that the Lands Department, the Transport Department and the Home Affairs Department have yet to reach a consensus over when to take action.
“I assume it will be in at least two weeks since it is the notice period required,” he said.
He said the homeless people were only sleeping on the streets because they have no choice.
According to Ng, they considered moving to a nearby Leisure and Cultural Services Department park, but there were already six homeless people staying there. They did not want to move to the nearby promenade either, considering that many families use the facilities.
“We are still looking for solutions,” Ng said.
Those in violation of the Lands Ordinance are liable to a fine of HK$500,000 and to imprisonment for 6 months. They also risk further fines of HK$50,000 for each day that they continue to occupy the land.