Bosses' cars blamed for clogging roads
The long-standing battle over traffic jams in Central has worsened because of an increase in 'bosses' cars', district councillors say.
Drivers routinely clog main roads and narrow footpaths during peak hours while they wait for their employers, the councillors say, while traffic policemen either turn a blind eye or are nowhere to be seen.
'They park in places where it's convenient for them to pick up their bosses,' said Wong Kin-shing, chairman of the Central and Western District Council traffic and transport committee.
Every day, lanes are blocked by drivers who sit in their cars with the engine running while they wait for their employers, Wong said. The problem is particularly apparent on busy roads such as Queen's Road Central, Ice House Street and Pedder Street, where congestion is common.
Another Central and Western District councillor, Cheng Lai-king, said the problem is serious.
'They shouldn't do it. They are denying other drivers their right to use the road. But many of them don't care about getting a ticket as the penalty is just a few hundred dollars.'
At lunchtime on a Tuesday afternoon, there were six cars waiting outside New Henry House in Ice House Street. The cars, with engines idling, occupied half of the two-lane street, slowing traffic coming from Queen's Road Central and Mid-Levels.
On Queen's Road Central that same afternoon, a Mercedez-Benz was parked outside the Shanghai Commercial Bank, one of several blocking the road's three lanes.
Cars can be parked only in designated spaces in Hong Kong. But many people - including those driving cars for officials - are parking their vehicles in prohibited places, either because there are not enough parking spaces in Central or just because it is more convenient.
On a different weekday afternoon, a number of Volkswagen Phaeton luxury cars appeared outside the Court of Final Appeal on Battery Path as the end of the working day approached. They included one with the licence plate 'CJ', indicating it was for the use of the top judge, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li.
Over the course of about 15 minutes, staff entered and left the former French Mission Building via the judges-only entrance and the vehicles drove away from the narrow lane after picking up their passengers.
When asked whether the pickup arrangement for Ma and other top court judges could violate traffic rules, a judiciary spokesman said the cars parked there to 'facilitate the boarding of passengers'.
But the spokesman said the driver of the vehicle had been reminded not to leave the car unattended and that the chief justice's car should be parked only in designated spaces.
A police spokesman would not comment on the problem, saying only that officers would continue to patrol the area.
Police have not released figures on the number of parking tickets issued in Central this year, despite repeated requests.