Transport Bureau (DSAT) Director Kelvin Lam Hin San said Monday that the proposed mutual driving-licence recognition deal between Macau and the mainland will not increase the burden on the city’s roads.
Lam attended a plenum in the legislature’s hemicycle which discussed a debate motion by directly-elected lawmaker-cum-unionist Leong Sun Iok on the issue.
According to The Macau Post Daily,the legislature passed Leong’s debate motion in December, which questioned the planned implementation of a mutual driving-licence recognition scheme between Macau and the mainland.
The bureau announced in October last year that the local government was planning a mutual driving-licence recognition agreement with the mainland authorities.
According to the bureau, the deal would allow Macau driving licence holders to drive on the mainland – and vice versa. The planned mutual driving-licence recognition would only be applicable to cars, excluding other vehicles such as commercial vehicles, scooters and motorcycles, according to the bureau.
According to Lam, the point of the planned deal is that Macau’s car driving licence holders can get a mainland car driving licence without the need to take a driving test on the mainland and that car driving
licence holders from the mainland can drive in Macau on their own driving licences.
During Monday’s plenary session, Leong questioned whether the planned mutual driving-licence recognition would increase the already heavy burden on Macau’s road network.
A number of lawmakers said during the session they were worried that the scheme would increase the number of traffic accidents in Macau due to the perceived “driving etiquette” differences between locals and mainlanders.
Some lawmakers expressed concern that the planned mutual driving-licence recognition would increase the number of mainlanders illegally working as drivers in Macau.
Lam responded to the concerns by pointing out there are currently about 100 rental cars in Macau, which would be the maximum of additional cars driven on the city roads if the mutual driving-licence recognition scheme is implemented in the future.
Lam said that if car rental companies in Macau planned to increase the number of cars they have for customers to lease, they would need to apply for permission from the government. He said that government’s approval procedure for car rental companies to increase their fleets was stringent.
Lao Sio Hap, a senior officer of the Traffic Department of the Public Security Police (PSP), also insisted during the plenary session that the planned mutual driving-licence recognition would not increase the burden on the city’s road network.
According to Lao, at the end of last year only 2,500 mainlanders were allowed to drive in Macau. Lao said that only nine traffic accidents involving casualties related to mainland drivers in Macau were recorded in 2016, while the number of such cases was 13 last year.
Lao also said that 230 cases of non-resident workers illegally working as drivers in Macau were recorded in 2016, while the number decreased to 73 last year.
Lam said that the planned mutual driving-licence recognition would make it more convenient for local residents to travel to, and do business, in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA).
Lam noted that the number of Macau residents applying for a mainland driving licence has been increasing in recent years, from some 3,000 Macau residents applying annually for a mainland licence several years ago to about 5,000 Macau residents per year recently.
Also speaking to reporters, Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosario said the government had not yet decided when it would sign the mutual driving-licence recognition agreement with the mainland authorities.
According to previous news reports, in 2013 the Transport Bureau already presented a plan by the government for a mutual driving-licence recognition deal with the mainland to the Traffic Consultative Council.
The bureau told the media at that time that the government did not have a timetable as to when the mutual recognition would be implemented.