Lawmakers call for licence law change

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 12:00am

Lawmakers yesterday urged the government to amend legislation to prevent non-Hong Kong residents from obtaining taxi driving licences and working illegally in the city.

Lau Kong-wah, of the DAB, said the government had to plug a loophole that allowed visitors to apply for taxi driving licences and take up employment.

'The existing legislation contains policy contradictions between two government departments. The authorities should amend legislation as soon as possible, stating clearly that only Hong Kong ID holders can apply for taxi driving licences,' he said.

The loophole was revealed when two-way permit holder Liu Guohua, 42, was charged with breaching conditions of stay between March 29 and April 2 by driving a taxi in Hong Kong.

Under the law, visitors are not allowed to work during their stay in Hong Kong but can apply for taxi licences if they are over 21 and have held a full Hong Kong driving licence for a private car for more than three years.

A spokesman for the Transport Department said the taxi licence issue was under review.

In a written reply to the Legislative Council, the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau said four out of 225,812 holders of taxi driving licences had produced identity documents apart from a Hong Kong identity card when applying.

Of the four licence holders, one held a two-way permit while the other three produced passports.

Mr Lau said although only a small number of taxi licence holders did not possess a Hong Kong ID card, one accident had already taken place which reflected the risk involved.

The bureau added that whether a motor vehicle insurance policy would be invalidated if an accident involved a taxi driver who was later found not to be a Hong Kong resident depended on the terms of the policy.

'Nonetheless, even if there is a breach of the conditions of the insurance policy, the insurer of the concerned taxi will still be required to satisfy claims from third parties including passengers,' he said.

The mainlander was remanded in custody after appearing in Sha Tin Court yesterday, where he denied one count of violating his conditions of stay.

The verdict will be given tomorrow.