Lawmakers demand fair hearing for MTR claims

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2012, 12:00am


Legislators have urged the government to set up an independent commission to hear complaints arising from MTR construction work, saying the present system is unfair to property owners.

The Legislative Council subcommittee on railways passed the non-binding motion after hearing that complaints were currently referred to a loss adjuster appointed by an MTR-authorised insurance company.

It has found the MTR responsible in only about 50 per cent of cases.

'A loss adjuster cannot stay totally impartial, as it is hired by the insurance company commissioned by the MTR,' said independent pan-democrat Andrew Cheng Kar-foo. 'An independent commission would boost confidence in the mechanism's impartiality.'

People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip, who moved the motion, said the commission should be similar to the independent body handling medical blunders under the Hospital Authority and include representatives from across society.

'The commission has to include non-engineering experts who can think from the residents' side,' Chan said. 'It is better than having only technocrats who turn down complaints saying the works are not the determining factor in damage to a property. The works can be a contributory factor as well.'

The number of MTR construction sites is at an all-time high - 100 sites for five new railway projects, including the West Island line and the Kwun Tong line extension projects.

Of 220 complaints prompted by the works so far, the MTR concluded 103 were unrelated to the projects. Another 110 were settled with the loss adjuster while seven have yet to be settled, Stephen Chik Wai-keung, head of project engineering for the rail operator, said.

Undersecretary for transport and housing Yau Shing-mu said the existing mechanism was effective.