Around 60 Lantau residents took over Keung Shan Road on Lantau Island on Sunday morning in a protest demanding that the government improve traffic arrangements before controversial development plans are rolled out.

An event at the Tian Tan Buddha celebrating the Buddha’s Birthday was held on the island that day. Many buses and cars heading for the Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery were trapped on the road for more than two hours. Tens of policemen arrived at the scene and vehicles were let through at around 1pm. Protesters left at around 3pm.

Traffic jam on Keung Shan Road.

Lee Sau-mui, a resident on the island and who joined the protest, told Apple Daily that there were only four roads connecting Lantau Island and Hong Kong but the roads are steep and narrow. During holidays, she said, “people and cars fight for access to the road, even the cows [have to] fight for access.”

Ng Kam-yiu, the vice-chairman of the Lantau Taxi federation also told the newspaper that an incident happened two weeks ago where a bicycle team and a car were almost involved in an accident. Neither side wanted to give way, leading to a traffic jam lasting over an hour.

Apple Daily reported that pro-establishment DAB legislative council member Tam Yiu-chung was seen getting out if his car during the traffic jam but left after vehicles were able to use the road again.

Keung Shan Road protest.

Mysterious banners appeared on Lantau Island last week supporting the development of Lantau Island. The Secretary for Development Paul Chan said on his blog on Sunday that “We have received a lot of comments and are currently organising and analysing them… ” He added that “we hope that a blueprint for the development of Lantau Island can be announced by the end of this year.”

The future of Lantau has been the subject of controversy since Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced plans for its development in 2014. During Leung’s 2016 Policy Address in January, he detailed the government’s plan to transform Lantau Island into a “low carbon and smart” district – including establishing an East Lantau Metropolis – through the construction of new artificial islands. In response to this part of his address, legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip accused Leung of damaging the natural environment on the island.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.