Taxi driver Wong Tai-see and van owner Lee Chiu-man, whose vehicles have been stranded in Tai O since Saturday, thought their troubles were coming to an end yesterday - until bureaucracy intervened. Boat owner Wong Chi-yin had volunteered to ferry the vehicles to Tung Chung. He was just five minutes from accomplishing the task when police stopped him and told him to return to Tai O. It turned out they needed Customs and Excise clearance even for such a short journey. Then police said the 45-tonne boat was too small to carry vehicles. The vessel had been rented by a Highways Department contractor to transport machinery from Tung Chung to clear mud and sand in Tai O. Owner Mr Wong had agreed to do the two drivers a favour by taking their vehicles on the way. 'The marine officer said only 250-tonne boats can carry vehicles and my boat is too small. But big vessels cannot park at Tai O ferry pier because of the water level,' he said. 'I am just a volunteer who wants to help fellow residents. I am not committing a crime or doing anything illegal. Why can't they just show a bit of understanding?' Wong Tai-see said he called customs hours before the trip and was told a permit was unnecessary. 'We are natural disaster victims who need some help and should not be treated as criminals.' He said he was desperate to start work as it was costing him HK$750 a day to rent the taxi. Mr Lee, a Tai O resident who runs a window service, said most of his business was in South Lantau and Tung Chung. 'All my goods vehicles are stuck in Tai O. I just wanted to transport one to Tung Chung so that my company could work better. Why can't they just treat our case as special and give us a concession?' The trio sought help from legislators Albert Ho Chun-yan and Lee Wing-tat. Police also called the Home Affairs Department and Islands District councillor Wong Fuk-kan, who had helped to arrange the trip. 'But we were still ordered to sail back to Tai O. We were just five minutes away from Tung Chung,' Wong Tai-see said.