The problem of illegal and discarded signboards has always been a threat to the safety of pedestrians. In October 2013, an illegal signboard of a nightclub in Nathan Road nearly fell on the ground to hit people beneath it (China News, 2013). In September 2013, an abandoned shop sign dropped onto the ground and hit the car below it. Fortunately, the car was empty and no one hurt (Apple Daily, 2013). The above cases are only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, there are numerous unqualified signboards that should be removed. According to the statistics of the Development Bureau, there are about 120,000 illegal signboards in Hong Kong at present (Yau Tsim Wong District Council, 2012). However, the government only removed 23,000 illegal shop signs over the last decade (Television Broadcasts Limited, 2013), which means that it would take more than 50 years for the government to solve the problem. This essay aims at analyzing the causes of the current situation, evaluating the effectiveness of existing law, and finally providing suggestions that the government should adopt to alleviate the problem.
Causes of the current situation
A tight squeeze of signboards has been one of the main characteristics in the downtown areas of Hong Kong, especially in Causeway Bay and Sham Shui Po. Signboards often use attractive colors and eye-catching figures to draw the attention of customers. They are one of the important tools used by companies to establish good enterprise figures. Pedestrians can often see the signboards as long as they walk past the streets. As a result, shop signs are even more effective than TV commercials in terms of time of exposure to customers (Victor, 2013). Because of the above advantages, companies actively installed shop signs in busy streets, forming the exotic view we see today in districts like Mong Kok and Sham Shui Po.
However, a large portion of signboards exist nowadays are abandoned. The main reason is that the companies installed them have either folded or become worthless (Television Broadcasts Limited, 2013). They often refused to remove the signboards since the costs are quite large. On the other hand, the proprietors of the buildings in which the signboards installed in hardly have the initiatives to remove them because those signboards belong to the companies only (Television Broadcasts Limited, 2013). Therefore, with the lack of repairs on the signboards, they may easily fall down due to the wear and tear of the supporting components.
The problem of discarded shop signs has been especially serious in Sham Shui Po. With regards to the survey conducted by Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, there are more than 300 illegal signboards in Sham Shui Po (Hong Kong Singpao, 2013). The main safety problems of those signboards are listed in the table below.
Sham Shui Po district councilors Wai Hun-nam pointed out that in such an old district like Sham Shui Po, most of the buildings do...