Green groups hit govt move to open closed roads in South Lantau

February 16, 2016 15:46
Up to 25 private cars will be allowed to enter closed roads in South Lantau during weekdays for leisure and recreational purposes. Photo: HKEJ

Green groups have criticized a government move to allow more private vehicles to enter restricted areas in South Lantau.

The Transport Department will allow up to 25 private cars to enter closed roads in southern Lantau during weekdays for leisure and recreational purposes starting Feb. 26, Apple Daily reported.

Currently, only residents and people with business in the area could enter the restricted roads.

Drivers could apply online for a Lantau closed road permit, which will enable them to drive on the closed roads to reach tourist spots in South Lantau from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Applications will be accepted from 7 a.m. on Wednesday for a fee of HK$75 and the daily quota of 25 permits will be handed out on a first-come-first-served basis. Each private car is eligible to apply for a permit once a month.

In a bid to promote environmental protection, five of the quotas will be allocated to electric private cars.

But Lau King-cheung, chairman of green group Friends of Lantau, criticized the government for neglecting the safety of local residents by opening up the restricted roads before the ongoing road maintenance work is completed.

Lau said the many sharp bends on Keung Shan Road leading to Tai O could pose threats to drivers who are not familiar with road conditions, while the width of road in many areas is not ideal for driving even after the renovation project is completed.

The lack of parking spaces is another problem that could arise from the sudden increase in motor vehicle traffic, Lau added.

Authorities are also planning to construct a cross-country biking trail at Mui Wo.

Pierre Wong Siu-wah, a senior engineer at the Civil Engineering and Development Department, said the first phase of the trail enhancement project is due to completed by the end of the year.

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