South Lantau roads to open up

As of December last year, the number of tour coaches allowed on South Lantau roads rose from 30 to 40, and this month, 25 additional private cars will be permitted to enter on weekdays for leisure and recreational purposes.

The move, which is the first phase of an overall plan to allow a total of 50 extra coaches and 50 private cars, is intended to promote tourism and the local economy, although it has not gone down well with the community.

In his Lantau Confidential blog, Robert Clark points out exactly why such a small allowance of vehicles is being treated as such a big deal. “While the extra tourist buses and cars will have a small numerical impact on the current 2,500 or so vehicles on the road daily, the real effect is symbolic: it is no longer a closed road. The Transport Department statement makes it clear this is merely the start. When it promises to review the timetable for the ‘second phase’ we can be sure that further phases will follow.”

Concerned residents held a public forum on December 19, organised by Save Lantau Alliance and supported by Lantau Buffalo Association, and followed up with a protest walk on December 20 from Pier 6 in Central to government headquarters in Admiralty.

Ho Loy, of Lantau Buffalo Association, is still hopeful the decision may be overturned. “We feel quite abused as there was no public consultation,” she says. “We feel that at least the government should study a bit more and facilitate the area to make sure the relaxations do not damage the area.”

The main concerns for locals are the lack of parking, and the dangers congested roads cause for drivers, pedestrians and South Lantau’s resident buffalo and cattle.