Thousands march against traffic fee hike

group of citizens, supported by lawmakers Pereira Coutinho and Leong Veng Chai, yesterday demonstrated against the government’s proposed fee hike for several services related to the Traffic Affairs Bureau (DSAT), especially those concerning vehicle removal and deposits when caught in violation of parking law.

The organizers said the event had attracted 5,000 participants, although the Public Security Police Force (PSP) said only around 1,600 people took to the streets.

The peaceful march began at Tap Seac Square and ended at the government headquarters. Under police supervision, the group delivered a letter addressed to the Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Raimundo do Rosario.

According to Pereira Coutinho, the letter requested a meeting with de Rosario in order to discuss the people’s concerns about the DSAT fee hikes, as well as other problems concerning private and public transportation in the territory.

While executive order 526/2016 will change the fees for multiple DSAT services, the public is mainly concerned with parking fines, which will be raised from MOP300 to MOP1,500.

Should the government ignore the people’s request, Pereira Coutinho says, “other actions might be enforced,” one of which may be the “slow circulation of hundreds of vehicles through the streets of Macau.”

During the march, protestors shouted and held up banners bearing messages like “Parking yes, tickets no” or “if fining is the solution, let’s fine the government for bad management.”

At the end of the protest, Pereira Coutinho was visibly pleased with the turnout and thanked all participants, saying he was “positively surprised” by the number of people who attended.

One 52-year-old male resident, when asked about his motivations for joining the event, said: “First, people need to have conditions to leave their cars in safe conditions [parking] then you can enforce police action [on] those that do not follow.”

“It’s crazy! Where are we going to leave our cars when we are travelling out of the territory? The [public] parks now have rules that don’t allow parking for over three days… It’s impossible.”

Police will target parking violations

Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak said on Friday that the police would focus on enforcing measures against parking violations, according to a statement from the Government Information Bureau.

Wong said that such a reinforcement would be done “while fulfilling their legal responsibilities in this regard.”

Wong reaffirmed the intentions expressed by Traffic Affairs Bureau (DSAT) director Lam Hin San at a previous press conference. He said that in the first five days after the updated fees came into effect, police enforcement had focused mainly on unauthorized or improperly parked vehicles in public spaces for extended periods of time, as well as those that appeared to be abandoned or damaged.

“Enforcing the law is a primary duty of the police: police officers would strengthen the effort further to enhance police-community relations, and consistently regard this as a priority,” Wong remarked.

Regarding concerns that the new charges might adversely affect the police’s relations with the community, Wong said “the public security authorities will pay close attention to public opinion.”

“The security authorities have been closely following the principle of ‘putting people first’ [and] introducing a modern policing model: proactive policing, community policing, and proximity policing.”

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