The Power of Spinach

One of the heroes of my childhood was Popeye the Sailor. At some point in every cartoon show, he would reach the end of his tether about a situation and cry "I yam what I yam and I can’t stands no more". Then he would squeeze open a can of spinach, swallow the contents with a single gulp, and thus strengthened put the world to rights.

I am just about reaching my boiling point too, and the object of my ire is illegal parking. The situation now is virtually out of control. What tipped me over the edge was an incident in Kennedy Town last Sunday. A bus and my car were turning right side by side at a T-junction but the bus was unable to complete the turn, because of an illegally parked car on his inside.

The bus couldn’t move, I couldn’t move, the lights changed and the traffic coming along the main drag couldn’t move. We all sat there desperately tooting our horns while the driver of the offending vehicle just sat there like a great big useless pudding. Yes I’m talking about you, Madame!

This was not the first time I have witnessed a similar incident. I have lost count of the number of times the open top tourist bus has been unable to turn right from Lower Albert Road, because of the nose to tail illegally parked vehicles in Ice House Street. What must the tourists think as they look down from the upper deck on a situation of utter chaos. What do all the journalists sitting in the Foreign Correspondents’ Club think of the cacophony of sound as cars backed up in Glenealy and along Hollywood Road give vent to their frustrations.

I am sure we could all name a dozen black spots from our personal knowledge. The layby near the Supreme Court Building has double – even triple -- parking for much of the day. The nearby Prince’s Building is notorious, as are whole swathes of Queen’s Road East.. There is one of those "vehicles waiting will be prosecuted without warning" spaces along Robinson Road where one guy parks undisturbed overnight, thus forcing all the school buses to load up every morning while stopped in the road, and inevitably obstructing all other users in a hurry on their way to work.

But I am not just complaining, I have a cure! No more tickets, the enforcement is scanty and the deterrent effect negligible. Tow them. The police should hire a fleet of towing vehicles and rent a large parking area in the New Territories. I understand there is a suitable site in Wang Chau. Somewhere more remote would be even better. The towed vehicles should be kept there for a minimum of seven days while records are checked for outstanding tickets etc. Then the registered owner, in person, together with all relevant documents (vehicle registration, insurance policy, driving licence etc) must present himself to collect the vehicle. No substitutes allowed.

Think of the impact which would be created if the whole fleet swooped on one of the black spots and towed every single vehicle. The driver is standing nearby smoking? Arrest him, bail him out the following day. He’s sitting in the car, engine running? Arrest him and hold him for the full 48 hours, with an extra charge of polluting us to death!

Run out of tow vehicles? Clamp everyone else and come back for them later!

I feel so much better having got this off my chest. I’m OK now Olive Oil, just pass me another can of spinach. And while you’re at it, give one to the Commissioner of Police.