Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees square denies venue to taxi associations for anti-Uber protest tomorrow, strike put on hold

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21st November 2023 – (Hong Kong) In a failed attempt to mediate the ongoing taxi strike, the Transport Department was unable to reach an agreement with the taxi industry. As a result, more than 17 taxi associations have organized a collective “car park” protest against the Uber ride-hailing platform. The protest is scheduled to take place tomorrow (22nd) from 11am to 2pm at Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees Square. However, the planned venue for the protest, Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees Square, has refused to lease the space to the taxi industry for parking their vehicles and staging the protest.

Cheng Lun-kwong, Chairman of Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees square, made the decision to terminate the lease agreement with the taxi industry for the strike. He explained that local residents were concerned about potential traffic congestion caused by the protest. Additionally, he stated that the square had received inquiries from the police regarding whether the taxi associations had obtained the necessary permits for their protest. Cheng emphasized that the square is government property and is subject to the supervision of the Home Affairs Department. He further stated that all activities held at the venue must comply with regulations. Cheng believed that the taxi industry had already achieved significant publicity for their cause.

Earlier, over 17 taxi associations had gathered hundreds of taxis to participate in the “car park” protest against Uber, expressing their dissatisfaction with the government’s lack of response to their demands. They accused the government of repeatedly making promises without taking any substantial action. They labelled Uber as an illegal operation and criticized the government for unfair law enforcement, placing the blame on the taxi industry. The associations announced that the strike would take place at Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees square in Tai Po, with over 500 taxis expected to participate. They declared that if their demands were not met within a week, further actions would be taken.

Following the announcement of the protest location, Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees square refused to lease the space to the taxi industry for parking and staging the protest. Cheng Lun-kwong confirmed today the termination of the lease agreement. He explained that the square could not accommodate the more than 500 taxis expected to participate in the protest, and local residents expressed concerns about potential traffic congestion. Cheng further clarified that he had received inquiries from the police regarding the taxi associations’ permit application. He stated that as a government property, Lam Tsuen Wishing TreessSquare is subject to the supervision of the Home Affairs Department and emphasised the need to comply with regulations for all activities held at the venue. He considered the taxi industry to have already achieved significant publicity for their cause.

In response, the planned strike scheduled to begin tomorrow would be temporarily put on hold. This decision came as a result of the government’s offer to reevaluate its strict measures against unlicensed car-hire businesses operating in the city.

Following discussions, the Transport and Logistics Bureau agreed to conduct a thorough review of the current legislation pertaining to the illegal transportation of passengers for hire or reward. Additionally, authorities expressed their intent to explore the regulation of online platforms that facilitate car-hailing services.

Wong Yue-ting, chairman of the Hong Kong Tele-call Taxi Association, hailed the government’s response as an “olive branch” extended towards the taxi industry. After consultations with other taxi associations and unions, Wong stated that the taxi trade has decided to cancel the planned strike. Instead, they are prepared to engage with the government in a rational and pragmatic manner to address the concerns at hand.

Initially, approximately 500 taxi drivers had intended to gather at the car park near the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree in Tai Po between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesday.