Fines for illegal parking must rise without delay
The government should consider even larger penalties to ensure respect for laws and safe passage on the roads
It will take more than an increase in fines to make much difference to illegal parking in the city, as the provision of new parking spaces continues to lag the increase in the number of private vehicles, now running at four per cent a year. The question is whether the government should also plan and build better parking facilities, or rein in the growth of the number of vehicles, or adopt all these measures.
That said, there is no question that higher parking fines, a revenue and traffic control tool that has not been adjusted since 1994, are a key part of any solution. A rise in complaints about illegal parking by 30 per cent over the past six months, despite a police crackdown, has prompted Transport Advisory Committee Chairman Larry Kwok Lam-kwong to renew calls for the government to push ahead with higher fines as a deterrent.
To be sure, when a law against illegal parking loses its power of deterrence, it is time to review the law or impose heavier penalties. We can’t do without the law, so the penalty must act as a deterrent. The government has proposed that the fines of HK$320 and HK$450 for different vehicles be raised to HK$480 and HK$680 respectively, derisory increases which would not even account for inflation since 1994.
The proposed new penalties look absurdly lenient when compared with the HK$1,500 on-the-spot fine for littering and HK$2,000 for jaywalking. Yet officials and lawmakers just sit on the proposed new fines as congestion worsens.
Kwok hopes Legco will discuss the proposed new fines this year and approve them by early next year. “We have suggested more parking spaces,” he said, “but what is more important is the continuous increase in the number of vehicles. The government said it would gather views and propose amendments to parking fines at an appropriate time. We trust this does not convey a lack of a sense of urgency. Respect for parking laws is important to safe passage on the roads. Officials should push ahead with the proposed penalties, or perhaps at even steeper scales to reap deterrence.