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Traffic and road safety in Hong Kong

Bus company whose driver was involved in fatal Hong Kong crash admits to manpower shortage

Revelation comes as Transport Department reveals accident site is black spot

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 September, 2017, 10:59am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 September, 2017, 11:40am

The Hong Kong bus company whose driver was involved in a gruesome fatal accident admitted to a manpower shortage while noting he had taken a work shift that was earlier than usual.

But Citybus said its 44-year-old driver, who escaped unhurt and was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving causing death, had been given enough rest time, at least 10 hours, between two shifts.

The shocking accident took place at about 6.30pm Friday during peak rush hour, killing three people and injuring 30 others. As of Sunday morning, four bus crash victims, all male, were in serious condition in hospital, a government spokeswoman said. Eleven others were in stable condition, while the remaining 15 had been discharged.

The three who died included two male pedestrians who were dragged under the bus when it mounted a pavement as well as a woman who was sitting in the fifth row of the vehicle’s upper deck.

Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai Chung said the force was investigating if driver negligence played a role in the crash.

There’s a manpower shortage problem
William Chung Chak-man, Citybus

Citybus development director William Chung Chak-man said the driver involved in the accident typically worked the overnight shift and that on Friday “he had taken an earlier shift to start work, but he did not have back-to-back shifts”.

“There’s a manpower shortage problem, but the drivers’ shifts have been arranged in accordance with Transport Department guidelines allowing them at least 10 hours of rest time in between,” Chung added.

Another bus driver, who declined to be named, said the driver involved in the accident was a contract staff who recently worked 14 hours a day.

The double-decker bus mounted a pavement and ploughed into pedestrians at a road junction in Sham Shui Po. The site has been listed as a traffic accident black spot for eight years in a row.

The crossroads located in one of the city’s busiest districts had seen six or more traffic accidents involving pedestrian injuries or nine or more cases involving personal injuries per year since 2010, according to the department. It also made the list in 2005 and 2007.

Over the years, a number of accidents have taken place at the junction, which has three lanes and a pedestrian crossing. It is located near the Cheung Sha Wan government building, the Dragon Centre shopping mall, and Apliu Street market, which sees significant traffic most days.

Police said the bus had been trying to avoid hitting a taxi that suddenly slowed down ahead of it.

The bus slammed into the pavement railing, a road sign and an overhanging building canopy, part of which went through the front window of the upper deck. Concrete rubble was scattered on the upper deck and the windows on the left side of the bus were smashed as well.

The route E21A double-decker was on its way to Oi Man Estate in Ho Man Tin from Yat Tung Estate in Tung Chung on Lantau Island.

On Saturday morning, the crash site at Yen Chow Street and Cheung Sha Wan Road where the accident took place was reopened and the double-decker operated by Citybus towed away.

Flowers were seen being left at the site next to the damaged traffic signs and shattered glass on the ground.

Additional reporting by Harminder Singh