Taxis may clog Central over delay in fuel charge

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 January, 2008, 12:00am
 

Taxi drivers have threatened protests that could clog the traffic in Central during rush hour if the government fails to approve their application for a HK$1 fuel charge per trip by the end of this month.

The ultimatum came yesterday when the Motor Transport Workers General Union mobilised more than 200 taxis for a slow-drive protest in which they drove round the Transport and Housing Bureau's Central headquarters at about 10.30am.

To Sun-tong, the union's director for taxi affairs, said it would not stop drivers carrying out 'vigorous actions' if their application was not approved soon.

'The matter has gone on for nearly half a year by now,' Mr To said. 'We can't stand by any longer, especially when LPG prices soared another 10 per cent this month.'

The monthly adjusted price of liquefied petroleum gas rose to between HK$4.51 and HK$4.89 per litre for January.

A bureau spokesman said the government was processing the application as quickly as possible and would submit it to the Executive Council for approval. The bureau called on the drivers to be patient.

In early 2006, there were two occasions when taxi drivers broke off from the procession during a protest and blocked all four lanes in Garden Road, causing long delays for people driving down from Mid-Levels.

Nearly 20 taxis and minibuses staged a separate protest yesterday in Cheung Sha Wan over the same issue. They also asked the government to open more restricted zones for them to pick up passengers.

Mr To said the latest price adjustment had forced more drivers to queue in the 12 government-subsidised petrol stations where prices were lower. Some drivers, he said, were losing up to an hour's business time to save a few dollars. He urged the government to provide more facilities like this.

The Environment Bureau said there were 46 LPG refilling stations in addition to the 12 subsidised ones and together they were sufficient to support all taxis and minibuses fuelled by LPG.

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