Following is a question by the Hon Andrew Leung and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (November 14):
It has been reported that while traffic accidents involving cargo compartments (commonly known as "skips") placed on roadsides in urban areas happened frequently in recent years, the Police have been unable to take law enforcement actions against the skips placed on streets. In an accident that occurred last month on Harcourt Road in Wan Chai, a taxi crashed fiercely into a skip at the road bend probably due to failure to slow down in time, causing serious damage to the front part of the vehicle and injuries to one passenger. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) how the authorities currently regulate the placing of skips (including whether advance application is required), which government departments are responsible for taking law enforcement actions, and how they handle skips which are indiscriminately placed on roadsides;
(b) of the number of complaints about skips received by the authorities last year, together with the number of traffic accidents involving skips and the resultant casualties; and
(c) given that under section 4A of the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228), if any skips obstruct, inconvenience or endanger any person or vehicle in a public place, the law enforcement agency may take action against the persons responsible for placing such skips, of the number of prosecutions instituted by the authorities under this section in each of the past three years?
Cargo compartments placed on roadsides (commonly known as "skips") are generally used for temporary storage of construction wastes generated from building or renovation works nearby. The renovation and fitting-out trades have a practical need for cargo compartments, which can reduce the dumping of construction wastes on street and nuisance to environmental hygiene, traffic and pedestrians. Cargo compartments are usually placed on roadsides for no more than two to three days and the inconvenience caused to traffic and pedestrians should be relatively short-spanned.
The placing of cargo compartments on roadsides is a district management issue and requires more effective co-ordination among departments. Various enforcement departments are involved in handling problems caused by cargo compartments. Each department has its respective legislation for taking law enforcement actions. The Steering Committee on District Administration under the Home Affairs Bureau reviewed in 2009 the handling of the obstruction problem caused by roadside cargo compartments, and then streamlined the enforcement procedures and co-ordinated the division of labour amongst the enforcement departments concerned, with a view to facilitating swifter enforcement actions. In general, the Government adopts a pragmatic and balanced approach in tackling the problem of cargo compartments placed on roadsides. Immediate actions will be taken when the cargo compartments pose imminent danger to traffic and pedestrians.
My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows -
(a) According to the streamlined enforcement procedures, when the Police receive reports on any cargo compartment causing serious obstruction or imminent danger to the public or vehicles, they will take appropriate actions under section 4A of the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228) on the offence of obstruction of public places. These include removing the cargo compartment immediately and instituting prosecution against the owner of the cargo compartment concerned.
As for cases where the cargo compartment under complaint causes no obstruction, inconvenience or danger to the public or vehicles but involves unauthorised occupation of Government land, Lands Department will conduct site inspection and post a notice under section 6(1) of the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance (Cap. 28) to require the occupier to remove the cargo compartment within one day. The cargo compartment, if not removed, will be cleared by Lands Department's contractor on the day of the notice expiry.
In view of the public concerns about placing of cargo compartments, Transport Department published in 2008 a set of "Guidelines for Mounting and Placing of Skips" for the trade's reference. The Guidelines were issued with a view to minimising inconvenience caused by roadside cargo compartments to the public and enhancing safety of road users. The Guidelines recommend good practices for mounting and placing of "skips", such as equipping each "skip" with warning lanterns as well as reflective strips, and the criteria to be observed in selecting suitable location for placing "skips". The trade should follow these Guidelines to avoid obstruction to traffic or threatening the safety of road users.
(b) and (c) In 2011, the Police handled 77 traffic accidents that were related to cargo compartments and the resultant casualties were 85. Lands Department received in the same year 615 complaints in relation to cargo compartments.
From 2009 to 2011, under the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228), the Police removed a total of 17 cargo compartments and 11 owners of these cargo compartments concerned were prosecuted and fined for the offence of obstruction of public places. The relevant prosecution figures were 6 (2009), 2 (2010) and 3 (2011).
Ends/Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:30