Border Gate Bus Depot touches 38 degree mark

Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Issue 756, Page 3
Word count: 705
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Macau Federation of Trade Unions (FAOM) and public bus drivers both favoured the idea of building a separate air-conditioned passenger waiting room in order to solve the ventilation and air problems in the Border Gate Bus Terminal.

Transport Bureau (DSAT) deputy director Nelson Chiang Ngoc Vai, FAOM vice chairwoman Leong Iok Wa and vice chairman Lee Chong Cheng, and also Transmac and TCM drivers’ representatives yesterday afternoon visited the underground bus depot, which has been out of air-conditioning after Typhoon Hagupit flooded the area in September last year.

The temperature recorded at 4pm in the bus depot was as high as 38 degree Celsius.

Mr Chiang said the DSAT is doing a study with the Institute for Development and Quality (IDQ) and the Infrastructure Development Office (GDI) to try to improve the air quality there.

“We found that the centre area of the terminal is the hottest and thus we will first install a row of spray fans and air vents there which will extract fresh air from above the ground around the taxi lane so as to ‘push away’ the exhaust gas and emissions from buses,” he said.

“We hope to finish the tender before mid-August and have the fans installed in late September to early October before summer ends,” he added.

In addition, 22 fans and 12 mist cooling fans will be put inside the depot at a later time to temporarily reduce the heat.

However, Mr Chiang admitted that they are just short-term measures to improve the air quality and temperature, adding that an “ultimate solution” is expected to come out in collaboration with the IDQ by the end of this year.

“But this [the depot] is an open space, the most we can do is to make here a little cooler than outside,” he said.

Yet the first step of improvement is expected to be seen shortly as the air conditioning in the staff lounge should be fixed within this week.

Meanwhile, Leong Iok Wa, who is also a lawmaker, said that in a short-term the DSAT should quickly ease the working environment for bus drivers in the depot such as by putting more cooling or spray fans there.

At the same time she suggested to separate the buses and passengers in the underground terminal by having an air-conditioned passenger waiting room such as those in many other cities including Zhuhai.

“We don’t want to see the government carry out minor changes every year but we prefer a complete solution for the air, ventilation and heat problems in the depot,” Ms Leong said.

“A waiting room will provide a much better environment especially Macau is a tourist destination,” she added.

The FAOM vice chairwoman also urged the Environmental Protection Bureau to monitor the exhaust gas there in order to provide scientific proof of whether the air quality is within health standards.

Despite the DSAT had thought about the idea of a separate passenger waiting room as a long-term solution, Mr Chiang said its feasibility was not yet clear as it will affect the operation of the entire bus terminal and require changes in the interior design.

Yet Ms Leong said the FAOM will keep pressing the DSAT for improvement as Mr Chiang assured yesterday that the bureau is responsible for the overall management and maintenance of the Border Gate Bus Depot.

Tsui Kam Hung, a Transmac bus driver, told the media the priority should be on enhancing the ventilation system.

“We hope that the government can solve the problems as soon as possible which will also be advantageous for Macau’s image as a tourist destination,” he said.

“People blame us for not switching off the engines, but the actual operation system of the bus doesn’t allow us to do so. If we restart the engine, the emissions from heavy vehicles like buses are even more serious than leaving the engine on,” he added.

Another driver from TCM also urged the government to build a passenger waiting room in order to avoid conflicts with passengers.

“It’s so hot here and people want to get onto the bus immediately after it arrives in the depot, but we have to leave the doors closed when we’re away for a little break,” he said.

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