Demerit system for dodgy cabbies to be introduced to LegCo next year

Taxis on a busy street in Hong Kong in 2015.
Taxis on a busy street in Hong Kong in 2015.

The arrest this week of a brawling cabbie and his passenger (we’ll get to that momentarily) couldn’t have been more timely, coming the day before a proposed demerits system for taxi drivers took another step toward reality.

The duo were arrested in the wee hours of Tuesday morning for fighting in public after having a disagreement over parking in Tsing Yi that was caught on camera.

According to Apple Daily, the fight broke out in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the Cheung On Estate, and involved a 50-year-old taxi driver surnamed Lai (in the red shirt) and a 63-year-old passenger surnamed Poon (in the white shirt).

Video of the fight, which quickly popped up on Facebook, shows a security guard try and fail to intervene as Lai gets pushed into his taxi, and the pair kick and punch each other while yelling “you motherf*****!”

An eyewitness, surnamed Wong, who filmed the fight told Apple Daily: “The driver was asked to stop at On Chiu House and he wasn’t able to do so they started the fight.”

Both men were sent to hospital after being arrested for fighting in a public place. Poon was also arrested on suspicion of damaging property.

Meanwhile, as if on cue, documents were submitted the very next morning at LegCo with an eye toward creating a two-tier points system to punish taxi drivers who overcharge, tamper with meters, refuse fares, or take roundabout routes to their destinations, according a to report in the Hong Kong Economic Times.

News of the proposed penalty system was first reported in May, and guidelines included installing CCTV cameras inside cabs.

Under the new proposals, drivers who violate any of the above may have five to 10 points deducted depending on the seriousness of the crime and have their driving license suspended for three months.

For cabbies who have accumulated 15 or more points in two years, their driving license will be suspended for six months.

The government is expected to release the guidelines in full later this year.

Under the current Road Traffic Ordinance, committing any of the offences mentioned above can land you up to six months in jail and a fine of HK$10,000 (US$1,300), while a repeat offender may face 12 months imprisonment and a fine of HK$25,000 (US$3,200).

The Transport Complaints Bureau received 2,720 reports about taxi services in the first quarter of 2018 — a 10 percent decrease from the previous quarter.

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