A HK$74.7 million contract entered into by the Civil Engineering and Development Department and Wing Hing Construction Company in September for improvement works at Tai O has Lantau residents wondering what will become of the idyllic fishing village.
According to www.news.gov.hk, the contract covers stage one of phase two of the improvement works and will aim to improve traffic and pedestrian circulation outside of the entrance to Tai O town centre. Further works will see the rebuilding of the existing Tai O bus terminus and public car park to feature an open public space and a cycle parking area, while also increasing the number of car parking spaces. This stage of works is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2019. The government has stated that the purpose of the improvements is to preserve Tai O’s cultural heritage and natural attributes, while enhancing visitor appeal and the local employment base.
For long-time Mui Wo resident Jacqui Green, of Protection of Animals Lantau South (PALS), what the government says and what it does when it comes to development are not always one and the same. “Their (the government, government departments and private developers) idea of conservation and their idea of nature appears to be somewhat different to ours,” she says. “I’m dubious about their commitment because they come at it from a different viewpoint. They don’t ever appear to see beauty in nature.”
Kathy Daxon, chairperson of the Tai O Community Cattle Group, lives in Tai O and agrees wholeheartedly with Jacqui. “They will ruin the natural, original aspect, which is the whole point of Tai O,” Kathy says. “It’s all about getting more people in. We don’t need more people. If we want to go to work, or do anything, we have to fight the tourists. It is terrible already.”