Sai Wan villagers extend blockade of hiking trail to weekends

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 3:59am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 3:59am

Villagers upset by the incorporation of their land into a country park have stepped up their protest against the decision by blocking a popular hiking track through the village on all days.

Residents of Sai Wan village on the scenic Sai Kung Tai Long Wan coast were already blocking the track on weekdays, but on Saturday, they started blocking it on weekends as well.

They said they had for the past year been voicing objections to government departments about their land becoming part of the Sai Kung East Country Park, but the response had been apathetic.

"Everyone, including officials, who enters the village without authorisation, will face legal consequences," they said in a statement. "If our moves cause any inconvenience to the public, it's the government's responsibility."

Village head Lai Yan said they did not know how long their action would last, but that they would be flexible in allowing hikers through.

"But shops will be closed, so the hikers may have problems getting refreshments," he said, adding that the villagers would decide their next step after observing the government's reaction. "We understand that everything is set now, and the decision is unlikely to be changed."

The Heung Yee Kuk said it respected the villagers' rights and the action was their "last resort".

In November, about 100 villagers and their supporters blocked the path of the Oxfam Trailwalker charity walk, forcing hundreds of participants to take another route for the marathon hike. Several weeks later, they made the blockade a regular practice on weekdays.

The South China Morning Post reported last month that conservation officials were thinking about opening a new footpath in Tai Long Sai Wan that would bypass the blockade, but it might double the time for that part of the trail to about two hours, as the path lay over hills instead of the coast.