Department cannot ban unsafe scooters

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 December, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 December, 2001, 12:00am

Officials are powerless to ban the sale of electric scooters found to be unsafe by the Transport Department and which are illegal to use on public roads.

Tests carried out by the department and the police on one brand indicated it had brake, steering and seat faults that could endanger the lives of riders.

Despite the road ban, the department said it was still legal to import and sell the scooters. It has issued a letter to 50 retailers who have imported the scooters, warning them they might breach the law if they did not warn customers about road laws.

The scooters are classified as motorcycles and require the same inspection, registration and licensing procedures as a petrol-driven bikes.

'They are structurally unsafe and unreliable. We believe most of the scooters on the market would not pass our vehicle tests and safety requirements,' said Law Ko-ming, an engineer with the department's vehicle examination division.

Driving the scooters on roads and in parks would also require a valid driving licence and third-party insurance, said Mr Law. Most of these scooters were made on the mainland and in Southeast Asia.

Prices range from $1,000 to $5,000 and large models can reach speeds of up to 30km/h.

Mr Law said there was no provision under the Roads Ordinance to ban the vehicles from entering the SAR.

A police spokesman said eight people were prosecuted between January and November last year for driving scooters without proper registration and licences.

Those convicted of driving the scooters on public roads could be fined $5,000 and jailed for up to three months. Retailers who sold scooters without proper warning could be fined $20,000.