Villagers spark confrontation after locking gate on Tai O trail

Villagers at Sha Lo Wan on north Lantau have erected a 2.5m iron gate to keep out visitors, closing one of Hong Kong’s most popular hiking trails.

The village closed the gate last Friday during the long holiday weekend, leading to heated scenes as hikers and runners tried to pass.

Two people who tried to skirt around the gate became lost in the nearby hills, sparking a rescue operation by the fire department.

The Tung-O Ancient Trail is a 15km coastal walk between Tai O and Tung Chung and one of the city’s best-known walking and hiking trails.

HK01 reported that the gate was locked with iron chains and protected by barbed wire and tree branches. Around a dozen villagers stood guard.

Hikers by the locked gate (Photo: Apple Daily)

A sign outside the village states it is a “private area.” Any person who enters “will be treated as a thief and will be reported to the police.”

Police said they had received a complaint from villagers on Friday morning after a heated dispute broke out with hikers who they accused of trespassing, HK01 said.

The hikers departed after police arrived, but were dissatisfied that the police could not explain whether the closure was legal or not.

One visitor, Ms Wong, told Apple Daily that villagers had threatened to beat her if she entered the village. She described them as “selfish and unreasonable” and questioned how they could forcibly occupy a public road.

Late on Friday afternoon two hikers decided to climb into the hills to get around the locked gate became lost.

The villagers refused to open the gate for firefighters, who were forced to use a ladder get into the village. The rescuers located the lost couple near Sha Lo Wan and evacuated them by boat from the San Shek Wan pier.

It’s not the first time Sha Lo Wan villagers have shut visitors out. In 2013 they closed the path as a protest at the government’s refusal to build a main road from Tung Chung to Tai O.

In response to reporters’ queries, the Lands Department said it would “follow up” the incident.

3 Comments on Villagers spark confrontation after locking gate on Tai O trail

  1. What a joke that these villagers can blockade like this. The small business there must be hurting.

  2. David perry // October 8, 2020 at 3:05 pm // Reply

    What is the Real reason for the obstruction?

    If it is a recognised path / right of way then surely it’s an illegal obstruction by the villagers. The police need to be clear to all parties of the legality of the villagers action and if illegal, take action.

    What is the likelihood of the Lands Department helping …… probably nil. Let’s see!

    Lastly – if the villagers are obstructing a public right of way and Denying access then should they still receive services such as electricity? And benefit from path access to theIr village?

  3. extortion. they want widening of the path, conversion into a road, compensation for their land used and they want development rights. public access along this path is well established and goes back hundreds of years. those who claim public right of access would win in court. unfortunately govt is hell-bent on avoiding upsetting villagers. fire services had every right to take down this gate.

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