Hong Kong drivers face on-the-spot fines in week-long illegal parking crackdown

Force’s efforts follow rise in parking-related offences in 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 January, 2017, 4:51pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 January, 2017, 11:01pm

Police in Hong Kong will fine drivers caught violating traffic rules without warning during a week-long, citywide crackdown starting on Friday, as the force moves to combat illegal parking in the city.

The operation, which is part of a year-long campaign against the misdemeanour, follows a 20 per cent rise in related offences, and a smaller increase in other congestion crimes last year, traffic superintendent Michael Yip Siu-ming said.

According to police, officers issued more than 1.45 million penalty tickets on illegal parking in the first 11 months of 2016.

Of the five regions, Kowloon West saw the greatest number of parking tickets and led the group with 28 per cent, followed by New Territories North with 336,426, or 23 per cent of the total.

Officers said they hoped the operation would lessen congestion and illegal parking, but Yip said that it depended on “whether or not road users were willing to change their undisciplined behaviour”.

Late last year, the Transport Complaints Unit identified Sai Kung, Eastern District, and Kwun Tong as the top three areas for illegal parking complaints. Complaints for Sai Kung more than doubled compared with the year before.

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On Wednesday, the city’s transport authority told the Legislative Council that illegal parking, especially on Queen’s Road Central, King’s Road near Fortress Hill MTR station and Middle Road near the Sheraton Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, had worsened.

The force had similar week-long crackdowns last year, with Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung then pledging to fight illegal parking.

During the four operations, the force issued 147,048 fixed penalty tickets and towed 54 vehicles.

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“Hopefully, this is a continuous process and eventually it will clearly change the undisciplined behaviour and will have a more significant outcome,” Yip said. “It is an ongoing process so we have to do it continuously.”

Part of the problem, said some motorists, is due to the difficulty of parking in Hong Kong and how busy the city’s streets can get.

Imas Misnih, who drives often in Central, was just given a ticket last month. “Too many cars,” she said. “So in Hong Kong, it’s quite crazy, the traffic.”

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Another driver in Central, Kennedy Au-yeung, expressed a similar sentiment, saying that:

“There [are] too many cars on the road.”

But he noted the need to follow the rules of the road.

The illegal parking issue was one of the city’s traffic enforcement priorities last year, with the police noting previously that it undermined road safety, “particularly affecting pedestrian safety and obstructing traffic flow”.

The government has proposed that the current fines of HK$320 and HK$450 for different classes of vehicles be raised to HK$480 and HK$680 respectively, as the penalties had not been increased since 1994.