take action

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 August, 2006, 12:00am

The column for anyone fed up with bureaucracy, frustrated with delays or furious with poor service. Tell us your complaint and we'll try to fix it...

Mabel Lam of Sai Kung questions why a private road sign has been maintained by the Water Supplies Department for years off Po Lo Che Road, which is used as an excuse for green-top taxi drivers to refuse to service residents living off an access road.

'We live in Sai Kung on Kap Bin Long Middle Lane off Po Lo Che Road. When we first moved in 1999, we noted that green taxis would refuse to go down our road, which is narrow and steep,' she said.

'There're no problems with red taxis as they generally follow your instructions on where to go. I decided to take action and reported the matter to the police department. The police duly sent officers to check the conditions of the road and concluded that taxis should be able to drop me at my required destinations.

'The police then prepared a court case against one particular taxi and I was asked to appear as a witness. But just before the hearing, the judge informed us of a sign that the defendant had pointed out (which both I and the police had neglected to see) and that part of Po Lo Che Road is considered a private road under the Department of Water Authority and, as such, taxis do not have to go anywhere if they so desired.

'I don't know the history of it but there's a substantial community living past that point now - Kap Bin Long New Village and Nam Shan, to name a few - and that road is even serviced by a green minibus, so it's by no means small. Fast forward seven years and the sign is still there and green taxis still won't come down our street and nothing has been done. Is there anything that can be done?

The Water Supplies Department said while it maintains a section of Po Lo Che Road, taxi drivers are free to use it.

'The uphill section of Po Lo Che Road beyond the junction with Pak Kong Au Road and Tan Cheung Road where there is a sign indicating it is a WSD private road is a waterworks access road maintained by WSD; but all side roads off it, including Kap Pin Long Middle Lane, are not,' a department spokesman said.

He said Kap Pin Long Middle Lane is a village road maintained by the Sai Kung District Office.

'With developments nearby, there is strong public demand for use of our section of Po Lo Che Road. Under normal circumstances, WSD does not object to local residents using it as an access road to and from their houses.'

A Fanling reader said he followed KCRC rules every morning during the rush hour queue for the first-class compartment at Sheung Shui station, yet many jumped queues by entering ordinary fare compartments and then walked to the first-class sections to gain seats first.

'I am writing about staff inaction to this queue jumping on Kowloon-bound trains,' he writes.

'Passengers waiting to board the first-class compartment of Kowloon-bound trains form a very long queue at the designated first-class queuing area on the Kowloon-bound platform at the Sheung Shui station during the morning rush hour. Many passengers avoid queuing at the designated first-class queuing area. They take advantage of the much shorter queues for boarding the ordinary class compartments and gain speedy access to the first-class compartment via the sliding doors between train compartments.

'By entering the first-class compartment much quicker than the orderly queuing passengers, the queue jumpers are able to find seats first. The orderly queuing passengers are penalised for abiding by the queuing arrangement.

'While fully aware of the queue jumping situation, staff who are deployed at the designated first-class queuing area during rush hour to ensure passengers queue up to board the first-class compartment in an orderly manner take no action to stop the queue jumping passengers. When a ticket inspector is on duty in the first-class compartment, the ticket inspector never takes any action against the queue jumping passengers. This situation makes a mockery of the whole queuing arrangement.'

KCRC said it had considered a number of counter-measures but concluded the most effective one was 'passenger education'.

'As first-class passengers can enter into the first-class compartment from three different directions, the issue of fairness is raised,' a KCRC spokesman said.

'Most passengers would still like to queue up at the platform in the peak hours because it would not be easy to go through the ordinary class coaches which are fairly crowded, although some passenger still take the additional effort to do so but the number of these passengers is small.

'We also considered stopping people from using the gangway doors during peak hours but note that those passengers are holding a valid first-class ticket, and it would not be appropriate, practically and legally, to disallow them from using the gangway doors.

'We will step up education by increasing the frequency of broadcasts at platforms during peak hours to advise passengers to board by queuing up.'