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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Illegal parking crackdown highlights Hong Kong wealth gap

Illegal parking crackdown highlights Hong Kong wealth gap

While it is commendable that the police are attempting to curb the long-standing menace of illegal parking, idling chauffeur-driven cars seem to escape unscathed while small commercial vehicles bear the brunt
I welcomed seeing the article about a crackdown on illegal parking (October 25). However, there continues to be unequal enforcement of laws in Hong Kong, i.e. one set of rules for the more well-off and another set for the working class.

Private cars with drivers have always parked or idled in spaces restricted by hours but have taken advantage of the reduced police presence over the last couple of years and now brazenly park against double lines, once considered an out-of-bounds parking “technique”.

This has resulted in traffic congestion in Central like that in developing economies; Queen’s Road and Ice House Street have been reduced to a single lane. On the rare occasions that police come by, these drivers move, only to circle back to reclaim their space after the officers have gone.

I have been in Hong Kong for many years, and have never once seen a single parking ticket written to a private car with a driver; this has not changed with the “crackdown”. The only tickets I have seen issued since this enhanced enforcement commenced have been to small commercial vehicles.

There is not only a vast inequality in wealth in Hong Kong but also inequality in terms of law enforcement. Members of the working class are struggling to earn a living in these challenging times and can ill afford a fine of HK$320.

I am not suggesting that these tickets should not be issued, but am asking the police to apply the laws to all in Hong Kong. Police (finally) need to issue tickets to private cars parked illegally or standing and idling. Drivers being waved away by police will not change the behaviour.

I suggest a fine of HK$1,500-HK$2,500 would be more appropriate and a deterrence. And if the car/driver is a serial lawbreaker, increase the amount with each incidence. This would help rebuild our financial reserves and would assist the government in expanding the HK$2 transport scheme to those aged 60 to 64; the scheme is currently only available to those over 65.

To those who would argue that this type of enforcement would require a very large number of police, my response is that one way to deal with this would be the installation of cameras. The police already use cameras to detect vehicles operating above the speed limit. It surely would be just as easy to capture the licence number on a parked vehicle.

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It always seems impossible until it is done.

Nelson Mandela
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