Dozens of drivers may be prosecuted over airport blockade

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2007, 12:00am

Police are considering prosecuting taxi and van drivers involved in the slow-drive protests earlier this month that caused traffic jams on routes to the airport for up to seven hours.

'We have already identified the information on the vehicles involved in the blockage. We are studying it and might prosecute them later,' police operations director Tsang Wai-hung said yesterday.

The incident started on the night of July 14, when the Airport Authority required van and radio-taxi operators to move to new pickup points, which they claimed were too far from the terminals.

'The blockage took place when the driver representatives were having a meeting with the airport [officials],' Mr Tsang said.

'Some very irresponsible drivers blocked all the roads. We were calling backup as we planned to remove them. However, as we were preparing, they dispersed as the meeting ended.'

Drivers reached an agreement with the authority and were temporarily allowed to pick up passengers in parking spaces closer to the terminal.

But the drivers who caused the jam would probably be charged under the Traffic Ordinance with purposefully disrupting traffic and dozens could be prosecuted, Mr Tsang said.

Kwok Chi-biu, chairman of the Urban Taxi Drivers' Association, which also took part in the slow-drive protest, confirmed up to three taxi drivers were summoned by police for interviews on July 16 and 17.

'Only a few of them were asked to have a talk with the police, but nothing else happened,' Mr Kwok said. 'They were free to go after having chats ... Our group sought legal advice from lawyers before and after the demonstration at the airport.'

Also, the police director of crime and security, John Lee Ka-chiu, said the force was continuing its investigation into the vandalism and attacks on New World Development properties.

'We have arrested 32 people so far, 31 men and one woman,' said Mr Lee, who is also an assistant commissioner. 'It is certainly one of the biggest investigations of the force.'