Hong Kong needs more and better rehab bus services, Ombudsman report says

Severe shortage and poor attitude cited, with only 156 vehicles for over 320,000 people who cannot move freely

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 March, 2017, 2:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 March, 2017, 2:09pm

Disabled persons in Hong Kong are facing a severe shortage of rehabilitation buses, with only 156 such buses for over 320,000 people who cannot move freely, according to the latest Ombudsman report.

The report stated between 108,920 and 126,827 people applied for rehabilitation bus service each year from 2011 to 2015, and between 30 and 34 per cent of the applicants each year failed to receive the service or gave up their application.

In one case, a wheelchair-using retiree said she needed to book the service two to three months in advance for non-peak hours. She claimed that during peak hours it was impossible for her to obtain it.

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In another case, a man suffering from infantile paralysis had to reschedule medical appointments periodically for fear of not successfully securing the service even if he booked a bus three months beforehand.

The Ombudsman said in the report that the government never assessed the demand for rehabilitation bus services, failed to encourage the growth of alternative rehabilitation vehicles, lacked a timetable for the barrier-free transportation policy, and held a poor attitude in meeting demand for such transportation services.

It urged the government to change its inactive attitude, assess the demand for such services and set up a service target.

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The Ombudsman also in the report lashed out at the Education Bureau for failing to monitor non-local degree courses and being ineffective in preventing fraudulent degrees or degree fast-tracking.

The bureau did not inspect non-local degree providers’ venues regularly, the report added, and did not require providers to keep records of documents relating to courses and students. There is also no existing law enabling the bureau to deregister providers of fraudulent degrees.

The Ombudsman urged the bureau to improve in these areas.