About 50 residents of Lantau Island took to the streets to protest against the government’s recent decision to open up some of the restricted road space on the island to tourists, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Monday.
The protesters occupied both lanes on a section of Keung Shan Road near Sham Wat Road on Sunday morning, paralyzing traffic and creating a jam several kilometers long.
Police officers arrived at around 11 a.m. to negotiate with the protesters, who agreed to surrender one lane at around 1 p.m. and eventually left the scene at around 3 p.m. for traffic to resume as normal.
A representative of the Chinese Merchants of Tai O Association, surnamed Lau, said Keung Shan Road, the only road linking Tung Chung and Tai O, is already overwhelmed with the increased motor traffic resulting from the government’s policy to allow more cars on Lantau in recent years.
Other villagers said the narrow road simply cannot cater to the increased motor traffic, not to mention the many cyclists and stray cattle that compete for road space.
The villagers said they were infuriated by the Transport and Housing Bureau, which has refused to meet with their representatives to discuss the situation.
Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said Sunday that opinions from the public on the development of Lantau were collected through a series of engagement activities that ended last month.
Chan said his bureau is now organizing and analyzing the data collected and reiterated that it is not the government’s plan to turn Lantau into an entertainment hub.
The Highways Department said it has completed 13 road enhancement projects on South Lantau Road and Keung Shan Road so far, in an attempt to improve the sharp bends on the two roads, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Lee Sau-mui, a representative of Sha Lo Wan Village, said residents were not opposed to development, but the Transport and Housing Bureau has clearly failed to provide the necessary transport facilities, which has now caused serious traffic congestion on holidays.
She said safety should be the top priority.
Tai O Rural Committee representative Lou Cheuk-wing said the government must widen Keung Shan Road to increase the speed of traffic in the short run.
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