The government has started collecting liquefied petroleum gas samples from Sinopec service stations and terminals as taxi driver groups report fewer complaints about breakdowns after cleaning their vehicle engines and switching to other suppliers.
Representatives of the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, Sinopec and local laboratory SGS took LPG samples at three Sinopec stations in Tai Po, Ma On Shan and Yuen Long and the terminal in Tsing Yi yesterday.
Lewis Ho Hon-ying, the department's chief engineer, said the samples would be sent to German and mainland laboratories for tests. Results will be known within one to three weeks.
The laboratories will examine the samples for their butane, propane and sulphur contents and residues.
'Starting next week, the department will send staff to take random samples of LPG from dispensing nozzles at [service] stations in Hong Kong for testing every week,' Ho said.
The inquiry was launched after the government admitted on Monday that about 80 taxis using Sinopec LPG had problems with stalling engines in September. The problem worsened over the New Year, with complaints received from hundreds of taxi and minibus drivers.
The department hotline, set up this week to record taxi breakdown details for investigation, received 13 cases yesterday, taking the total to 88.
Taxi driver groups, meanwhile, are getting fewer complaints about engines stalling this week.
Leong Yee-wing, the chairman of the New Territories Taxi Drivers' Rights Alliance, said this was so because many drivers had switched to other fuel brands and many had cleaned their vehicle engine parts.
Some service stations were out of stock in the past few days and drivers had to wait for an hour before petrol firms refilled the stations' tanks.