Tears flow as highway tragedy site blocked off

Top News | Cindy Wan 6 Dec 2018

Tears were shed on Tsing Sha Highway as around 190 people returned to the site where six people were killed in a tragic coach accident.

Police temporarily blocked three lanes of the highway near Tsing Yi yesterday morning to allow families and friends to carry out rituals for the victims.

Some burst into tears while kneeling on the road, some wailed the names of the victims and others mourned in silence and bowed to pictures of their loved ones.

Matthew Wong Leung-pak, chairman of Kwoon Chung Bus Holdings - operator of the coach involved in the accident - showed up to express his condolences.

Six people were killed when a bus rammed into a taxi while carrying airport employees to work at midnight on Friday.

Among them were coach driver Fok Chi-sum, 62, and taxi driver Lui Chi-yuen, 59. The others were ground handling service company SATS HK employee Lau Kin-sing, 50, airport vehicle driver Au Po-ying, 58, and Cathy Pacific employees Ngai Ho-bun, 30, and Tong Lai-ching, 47.

The Transport Department held a meeting with representatives of nonfranchised bus groups yesterday, chaired by its deputy commissioner Macella Lee Sui-chun.

The meeting, which lasted three hours, revolved around safety issues and the problem of drivers' long working hours.

Both parties discussed whether installing seat belts should be made mandatory for nonfranchised buses and how innovative technology can help improve the service quality and reduce working hours for drivers.

Public Omnibus Operators Association vice chairman Tang Chi-keung said there is a general consensus within the industry that passenger seat belts should be installed on new coaches.

Tang estimated that only half of some existing 7,000 coaches are equipped with passenger seat belts and suggested the department only make it compulsory for new buses.

It would cost some HK$300,000 to add seat belts on old coaches as they may need to undergo substantial renovation, while the cost for new coaches will approximately only be HK$150,000.

As for long working hours of coach drivers, Tang agreed that guidelines should be drafted to which the entire industry should adhere. He added that details are still being discussed.

Since the coaches carry different kinds of passengers - such as tourists, students and employees - drivers need to cater to their needs accordingly, Tang said.

Therefore, it is difficult to come up with standardized working hours for all coach drivers, he explained.

Tang said the department will set up a working group which will include engineers, officers and representatives from the nonfranchised bus industry to follow up on the issues discussed.

cindymt.wan@singtaonewscorp.com

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