Advance party on way to Whitehead

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 September, 1996, 12:00am

About 400 Vietnamese boat people from Tai A Chau will be moved to Whitehead today to clean out the camp ahead of next week's mass transfer.

The workers will spend three days scrubbing the huts and setting up kitchens in preparation for the other 5,100 detainees who start arriving on Monday.

Security bosses are moving all 5,500 Tai A Chau boat people to Whitehead so they can close the remote island camp off Lantau.

Every day, 550 Vietnamese will be transferred 50 kilometres by ferry and lorry.

The boat people chosen to spruce up Whitehead receive an average of $120 a month for doing similar jobs at Tai A Chau, which is run by Hong Kong Housing Services For Refugees.

At Whitehead, which is managed by the Correctional Services Department, detainees are paid $2.60 to $6.20 a day for menial tasks.

'About 100 workers and their families will be moved tomorrow,' a CSD source said yesterday. 'It's not a test run. They are going there for preparation work. They will be shown where everything is, how to turn the gas on and so on.

'We will not have any extra staff on duty because it's not part and parcel of the main operation. We're treating it as a normal transfer.' The first ferry will depart at 9.30 am today and the second at 10.30 am.

From next Monday, three ferries will leave Tai A Chau every day - two for passengers and one for luggage. Police launches will escort the boats in case anyone jumps overboard.