Traffic stops as villagers protest lifting private vehicle restriction in South Lantau

 A protest by Lantau Island villagers temporarily stopped traffic along Keng Shan Road last Sunday.

Displeased with the government’s new scheme opening up long-restricted roads to a limited number of private cars, protesters from Sha Lo Wan and Tai O took to the street on May 8th, causing considerable traffic.

Authorities were alerted before noon to the traffic along the portion of the two-lane road near Shum Wat, which leads to Tai O. Dozens of protesters occupied both lanes for a little less than 30 minutes.

Police later convinced the group to confine their activities to just one of the lanes after some discussion. Nearby road work worsened the congestion as both north and southbound vehicles took turns passing the protesters until three in the afternoon.

The group expressed concerns regarding the increased risk and complications of opening up Lantau's restricted highways, which are already brimming with vehicles, before addressing existing infrastructure issues.

In a new scheme by Hong Kong's Transport Department, up to 25 private cars per weekday are granted entry for leisure trips to popular destinations including Ngong Ping, Tai O, and the beaches along South Lantau's coastline, to boost tourism. Prior to this, private cars have been barred from South Lantau roads, save for those belonging to residents and those on official business with permits.

Lantau residents have been particularly alarmed this year with the government's development proposals, citing dramatic changes to the island's landscape, which could vastly affect its overall environment and living conditions.

Photo by Mk2010 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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