Six street cleaners arrested over work-dodging scam

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 February, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 February, 2000, 12:00am

The ICAC has arrested six Kowloon street cleaners suspected of being part of a work-dodging racket that allowed them to play cards and sleep while they were supposed to be on duty.

Independent Commission Against Corruption investigators allege false work records were produced to cover up the scam and tanks which should have been filled with refuse from the street were instead topped up with water.

In a two-day operation that ended yesterday, four foremen and a driver employed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department were arrested.

A former cleaner was arrested a month ago and has been released on bail. The remaining five suspects were expected to be granted bail last night.

All of the arrested men work out of the former provisional urban council's Sai Yee Street depot in Mongkok.

The disbanded council's duties were taken over by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department at the start of the year.

The foremen each head a team of five cleaners and drivers responsible for 5,200 street-side drainage channels across Kowloon. They deposit sludge they collect at a refuse station on Stonecutters Island.

The arrests follow months of controversy in the provisional urban council over allegations that the racket was widespread and may have gone unnoticed for years.

The investigation centres on allegations passed to the ICAC by the council in October that night-shift gully emptying teams who cleaned out street drainage channels were dodging work with the help of their supervisors, a commission statement said.

'Instead of supervising the gully cleansing work, the foremen had allegedly instructed their subordinates to fill up the gully emptier with tap water,' it added.

Workers allegedly made false entries in the vehicle log book at the Sai Yee Street depot, which the foremen then allegedly signed to certify that the records were true.

The former worker arrested is alleged to have asked colleagues to falsify entries in the attendance book when he was on the mainland.

An ICAC spokesman said investigations were continuing to determine whether corrupt payments were made to make the racket work.