Demonstrators slam gov’t for proposed road traffic amendments

Thousands of residents joined a protest criticizing the government’s proposal to amend the road traffic law, which includes the surge in fines, in a rally organized on Saturday.

Although the government suspended public consultation on the proposed amendment of the Road Traffic Law, the rally went on with many demonstrators chanting calls for some government officials to step down while they marched from Vasco Da Gama Square to Nam Van.

According to organizers, around 3,500 participated in the march, while police figures show that there were 2,500 in attendance.

The Transport Bureau (DSAT) recently proposed to double fines, with high fines issued in instances of recidivism (the tendency of offenders to reoffend).

“I know that the government cancelled the consultation, but people are still getting angry,” said Luis Leong, from the Macau Community Development Initiative, one of the organizers of the protest, according to a TDM report.

At least three groups representing different sectors handed their petition in to the office of the Chief Executive.

One group was calling on the government to focus on other traffic issues including the limitation on the number of vehicles, while a taxi drivers’ group called for the creation of organized and legal drop-off and pickup areas.

Lawmaker José Pereira Coutinho, who was present at the protest, slammed the government for failing to recall the march organized last year, protesting fee hikes for several DSAT-related services, which attracted some 5,000 people.

“The government is making this kind of wrong decision for the second time. The government has not learned its lesson and it seems that they are out of touch with people’s difficulties of living in Macau,” Coutinho told the times.

According to him, the suspended public consultation, which was supposed to commence on June 28, was just a “performance.”

“What is the use of consulting the people when in the government’s [agenda], they have already set up and fixed that and took the decision of increasing the fines. It’s just a performance consultation,” the lawmaker criticized.

Since the cost of living is high in the city, he remarked that traffic fees would be a burden to many, particularly due to the lack of parking spaces.

According to Coutinho, authorities should have solved the region’s problem of vehicle parking spaces, and suggested that government cars should not occupy reserved spaces in public parking spaces – particularly in the public parking in the north area.

“The government should construct buildings to put all their government vehicles inside their premises and not [compete] with the public on these spaces,” he said.

The lawmaker told the Times that he has already submitted a public interpellation to discuss the matter and hopes that officials can explain the policies of unrestricted importation of cars.

“We hope that someone will be accountable for this mess,” Coutinho added. LV

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