Government accused of protecting deplorable taxi trade

Local | 15 Mar 2019 2:17 pm

Pro-democracy lawmakers have accused the government of acting as an enemy of the Hong Kong people by planning harsher penalties for drivers of vehicles which use ride-hailing apps like Uber, RTHK reports.

During a meeting of Legco's transport panel, IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said the government is doing the exact opposite of people want, and questioned why officials are not targeting the poor service taxi industry.

The Transport Bureau is proposing increasing the penalty for the illegal carriage of passengers on first and subsequent convictions to HK$10,000 and HK$25,000 respectively.

The local taxi unions have been putting pressure on government to ban services such as Uber, saying they are cutting into their livelihood.

Civic Party's Alvin Yeung, talking after the debate, alleged the government is protecting the taxi trade at the expense of public.

"The government is quite out of touch. We see a lot of Hong Kong people are taking rides by raid-hailing model instead of traditional taxis. People are not satisfied with traditional taxis," he said.

"People are expecting government to embrace the technology and allow the passengers to have choice. But the government is doing something that is completely opposite," the lawmaker said.

However, the Undersecretary for Transport Raymond So said while the government embraces the application of technology, people should not break the law in its name.

The opposition lawmakers also opposed the taxi trade's bid to raise fares by up to 25 percent, saying it failed to improve service over the years.

Civic Passion's Cheng Chung-tai said the trade does not deserve to have a raise as their services as their services are worsening. Some other lawmakers described it as a "robbing" of Hong Kong people.

Transport Commissioner Mable Chan said she understands any fare increases would not be easily accepted by the people. She said the department will consider a number of factors before submitting its proposal to the Executive Council for consideration.

Chan also said some of the taxi companies had agreed they wouldn't increase the rates for at least three to six months after the new fare rates kick in.-Photo: RTHK

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