The trouble with EVA

Mui Wo’s EVA is a hot mess, but change may be coming.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to drive on the emergency vehicle access road through the Mui Wo hinterland.

The road, created decades ago by the CEDD when it built the drainage and sewerage system, has never been gazetted and remains a private road. The only roads where it is illegal to drive without a permit are short sections near the junction of Ngan Shek and Ngan Shu streets (above) in Mui Wo.

The Transport Department is reviewing the road’s legal status and whether it needs to be upgraded. The options are to retain as it is, to upgrade it and formally declare it a prohibited zone, or even to open it up as a public road.  But with at least half a dozen government agencies and local rural committee involved, any change will take time.

EVA is under the purview of the District Office, a unit of the Home Affairs Department. But administration of the road also involves the Transport, Lands and Highways departments, police and fire services, and even Architectural Services and Building Services departments.

South Lantau police commander Chief Inspector David Bennett says that the push to develop Lantau South and the extra population that will bring means government agencies are required to look at whether declaring an EVA road “is a realistic prospect.”

He said that at his first meeting with Mui Wo leaders two years he asked if they could identify the EVA road – none could. Broadly speaking he says the ‘EVA road’ is the Rural Committee Rd. As a private road, it is not illegal to drive on it without a permit. Vehicles cannot be prosecuted for speeding, although police can hand out fines for reckless driving.

To reach the EVA road drivers must pass through the prohibited zones on Ngan Shu or Ngan Shek streets. It’s technically an offence to drive on those without a permit and police may be able to prosecute if they have a witness or evidence of the offence taking place.

The Mui Wo EVA is quite different from others in Hong Kong in being close to population. In Yuen Long and Shek O the EVAs have clear rules and are not in built-up areas.

Bennett says that in the short-term physical upgrades may be likely, such as installation of mirrors, warning signs, yellow lines and passing places.

In the long term, the question is “what does the District Office expect of this road in terms of meeting community expectations?”

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