Hong Kong has seen a surge in the number of private cars from neighboring Guangdong province, although a trial scheme allowing them to run on the city’s roads has yet to be implemented, am730 reported on Monday.
The Ad Hoc Quota Trial Scheme for Cross Boundary Private Cars was launched in March 2012 , but only the first phase of the program has been approved.
This means that only Hong Kong private car owners can drive their cars with five seats or less into the Guangdong via the Shenzhen Bay Port for a stay of not more than seven days.
Private cars from Guangdong are not yet allowed to enter Hong Kong under the first phase of the scheme.
It will take some time before the scheme is fully implemented as official discussions have been suspended.
Currently, only certain mainland vehicles belonging to the mainland government, departments directly under mainland authorities and some enterprise units are allowed to run in Hong Kong for up to one year through international circulation permits. These vehicles normally have plate numbers beginning with FU or FV.
However, there has been an influx of private cars from Guangdong with such permits. According to data from the Transport Department, such vehicles numbered about 2,800 as of September, up from 1,900 in 2011.
Lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai, a member of the Legislative Council’s transport committee, said the rising number of private cars from the mainland province suggests that the trial scheme is being fully implemented even without any official announcement. He asked for an official explanation.
Responding to enquiries from the newspaper, the transport department said the trial scheme will remain at phase one until more experience is gained, adding that no private cars from the mainland are running on Hong Kong roads under the scheme.
The government will hold public consultation before full implementation of the scheme.
Many local motorists are against allowing mainland private cars to enter the city as they voice concern about road safety and traffic volume.
According to police data, 322 mainland cars with international circulation permits were involved in traffic violations in the first nine months of the year, up by nine from a year ago.
Dr. Ringo Lee Yiu-pui, chairman of the Institute of the Motor Industry Hong Kong, said different driving habits between mainland and Hong Kong drivers could result in road accidents.
For example, mainland cars drive on the right and need not stop to make a right turn on red light, Lee said.
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