Hong Kong taxi groups allegedly conduct sting operations against unlicensed hire cars

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17th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) Members of Hong Kong’s taxi industry are reportedly engaging in self-initiated sting operations targeting unlicensed vehicles for hire. This movement comes amidst growing frustrations over perceived inadequacies in law enforcement and the rising competition from ride-hailing services such as Uber.

The incident, which caught the public’s eye through several videos circulated on social media platforms, allegedly shows taxi industry members coordinating rides from various locations, all converging at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. Upon arrival, these individuals reportedly called the police, claiming to be passengers who had been serviced by illegal hire cars. The East Kowloon Traffic Investigation Team is currently looking into these claims.

The videos depict moments of confrontation where unsuspecting drivers are stopped by police, with one driver audibly confused by the sudden police attention. The police have confirmed that while they did respond to the scene and recorded details from the drivers, no arrests were made nor tickets issued at the time.

Chow Kwok-keung, Chairman of The Hong Kong Taxi and Public Light Bus Association, expressed dissatisfaction with the current level of police enforcement against unlicensed vehicles. While he discourages unilateral actions that might blur legal lines, he acknowledges the deep-seated frustrations within the taxi sector over what they view as unfair competition eroding their livelihoods.

“The industry’s resort to self-help measures reflects a desperation for justice and enforcement,” said Chow. “While we do not endorse these actions officially, there is an understanding among our members about why such steps are seen as necessary.”

Meanwhile, Wong Cheuk-pong, Chairman of the Hong Kong Taxi Council, stated that the council had not organised or participated in the alleged sting operation. However, he mentioned that the need to tackle the issue of white-plate cars had been discussed in meetings, with no conclusive plan of action due to concerns about the legal validity of evidence collected by civilians.

“This issue has been a thorn in the side of legitimate taxi operators for nearly a decade,” Wong explained. “We have long been calling for stronger governmental action and legislative support to address this persistent problem.”