Lantau’s road wars continue. District council member Randy Yu has attacked the closed road, describing as out of date and “highly unreasonable.”
In the latest volley in a continuing battle over the island’s roads, Yu has called on the Transport Dept to cancel the fee charged for the annual permit.
Yu, the South Lantau representative and vice chairman of the Islands District Council, told the council’s transport committee that despite the growing number of visitors, Lantau is stuck with a road network built more than half a century ago.
“The closed road is out of date, but still exists,” he said. “The operation of the existing Lantau Closed Road Permit system is highly unreasonable.”
Additionally, the imposition of the annual permit fee of $660 is cumbersome and excessive and denies residents’ relatives and friends “the right to drive” to Lantau to visit, he said.
His remarks at the transport committee’s March meeting follow a similar call by Tai O rural committee chairman Lou Cheuk-wing in February.
Yu complained that the rural committee leaders and Legco members had proposed on numerous occasions the expansion of the existing road network, but the government had refused to build it. Environmentalists and many local residents are also opposed to the expansion.
Lantau’s rural committees want to create a round-island road network, upgrading South Lantau Road to standard grade and adding a coastal connection from Tung Chung to Tai O and a north-south link from Tung Chung to Mui Wo.
The Transport Dept and, more recently, the LanDAC committee, which was set up to plan Lantau’s future, have rejected both roads on cost and environmental grounds.
In January last year the Transport Dept lifted the ban on non-local vehicles, allowing up to 25 cars and 40 tourist coaches a day to visit the island. Police reported that in the first six months following the change, traffic offences soared 150%.
(Photo: Lantau drivers protest against the lifting of closed road restrictions in July 2015.)