Cabbies' mass action threat

Local | Jane Cheung 14 Mar 2018

Jane Cheung

An alliance of taxi drivers, campaigning to kick Uber out of Hong Kong, is threatening to paralyze Central with "thousands" of cabs if the government fails to meet them, address their grievances and give them a "proper" response.

The drivers are planning a smaller-scale slow-drive protest around the governments' Tamar headquarters from 8am until noon tomorrow.

The alliance claimed a hundred drivers have already agreed to take part in the slow-drive protest.

Alliance spokesman Chan Man-keung said that apart from the slow-drive protest, about 5,000 drivers will tie black ribbons and hang banners in their taxis tomorrow.

As part of the protest, all alliance drivers will also sound their horns for 30 seconds at noon tomorrow.

However, drivers with passengers will only sound their horn while driving. He stressed that drivers will not disrupt passengers' schedules.

Chan said the alliance had requested to meet Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan to discuss the threat posed by Uber, but it failed to receive any response.

He lashed out at the government for its lack of sincerity relating to their concerns.

Alliance convener Francis Li said: "This protest aims to show our abilities and let the government know that we are really angry now."

He said the alliance is displeased with the government's proposal to introduce franchised taxis as it believes the scheme "will downgrade licensed taxis to low-quality cabs."

He warned that if the government fails to listen to their concerns and only sends officers to receive their letters, "then we will put our crowd in Central until the government gives me a proper answer."

The alliance is comprised of 23 taxi driver unions and its members consist of red, green and blue taxi drivers from Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, the New Territories and Lantau.

Last November, the Consumer Council asked the government to look into a licensing system for cabs booked via the internet. Its recommendation came after it made a study into the taxi market on the mainland and in other countries.

The council said opening up the taxi market will allow more competition and encourage local taxis to improve their service quality.

The government has proposed launching 600 franchised cabs, providing a premium option in the local taxi industry.

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