The government has granted a sharp increase in vehicle permits for South Lantau this year, with a 25% rise for the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2020.
Around 4,700 new Lantau Closed Road Permits (LCRPs) were issued from January to March, Transport Department figures show, up from the quarterly average of 3,800 in 2020. Over half of these were for private cars, with around 15% for light vans and 20% for taxis, franchised and non-franchised buses.
Vehicles driven in South Lantau are required to have valid Lantau Closed Road Permits (LCRPs), usually issued with a validity of up to 12 months. The government says it grants permits to all residents, with one per residential address, and also to those who have “genuine need” to enter the closed road system, including “tomb sweeping” visitors and business operators.
A Transport Department spokeswoman says the sharp rise reflects a return to “normal” figures after a Covid-related dip in 2020, claiming the number of permits issued this year was “similar to the level in Q1 2019”.
But in fact the number issued in the first quarter this year is around 7% higher than the quarterly average for 2019, with private cars up 6% and taxis, franchised buses and non-franchised buses up 80%, to about 900 per quarter, against 2019 averages.
A Lantau permit costs just $900 for a new 12-month application or $660 for a renewal. But a police bust earlier this year revealed a black-market price of between $6,000 to $10,000 for LCRP’s sold illegally through social media.
Local campaigners say there are too many cars in the area, with the towns and villages of South Lantau blighted by illegal parking. Some have voiced concerns over the construction of new houses, which automatically attract new vehicle permits – on this issue, the government has said it is seeking new parking sites to accommodate the rise in vehicle numbers.
Meanwhile the Home Affairs Department insists it is still unable to release minutes of an inter-departmental meeting held in October 2019 to discuss the growth in cars and widespread abuse of closed roads in the area.
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