Sarah Liao sets up a taskforce aimed at improving the government's handling of traffic problems Transport chief Sarah Liao Sau-tung yesterday apologised publicly for the traffic congestion caused by Monday's rainstorm, admitting the government should have done a better job in alerting the public. She is setting up a taskforce to investigate in a bid to improve the government's handling of future problems. But Dr Liao stopped short of laying the blame for the delay in notifying the Buildings Department about the fallen scaffolding on Prince Edward Road East that held up traffic for up to four hours in Hunghom. Flanked by seven government officials, the secretary for environment, transport and works said unusual weather conditions had caused the incidents on three major roads in Kowloon, but admitted that the government could have been more efficient. 'I wish to first apologise on behalf of the government for the major congestion in Kowloon peninsula and citizens' inconvenience caused by a series of incidents due to weather conditions on Monday,' she said. 'This incident showed that there is room for improvement in the government's handling of crises affecting traffic.' Dr Liao said one of the main reasons for the congestion was that announcements by the government about roads being blocked by fallen trees and scaffolding had been too mild to deter drivers from using the roads. Commissioner for Transport Robert Footman added that 'the messages sent out did not convey the magnitude of the problem people were facing on their way home'. Dr Liao has appointed Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, chairman of the Transport Advisory Committee, to head the taskforce. The group will examine how the government can better disseminate information, more efficiently clear the site of incidents and strengthen its co-ordination system. The taskforce report will be ready next month. Three road incidents that happened within minutes of each other just after midday on Monday caused the major congestions in Kowloon. They were the fallen scaffolding on Argyle Street and Prince Edward Road East and the tree that fell and blocked Waterloo Road for more than two hours. Chief Superintendent of Police Ma Wai-luk said frontline police officers acted as quickly as possible in diverting traffic. He did not accept blame for not notifying the Buildings Department sooner about the scaffolding that fell on Prince Edward Road East, which left all four eastbound lanes blocked for nearly 19 hours. The police first contacted the Fire Services Department to ensure nobody was trapped in the bus on which scaffolding fell, Mr Ma said. The Transport Department was notified an hour later. The Buildings Department, in charge of removing the scaffolding, received a call at 3.08 pm.