Government excuses for non-existent electric vehicle (EV) subsidy trial reports are “nonsense”, says lawmaker and district councillor Ted Hui Chi-fung, claiming the government’s neglect harms the public interest and hurts the development of clean transport in Hong Kong.
Hui says he was shocked to learn that 2014 trial reports associated with recently bankrupted minibus firm Chit Fai, and many other subsidy recipients under the government’s HK$300m Pilot Green Transport Fund, were missing from the public record.
“It took me by surprise that these reports would be missing,” he says. “There is a huge amount of public money involved.”
The absence of the reports was discovered when minibus firm Chit Fai went out of business earlier this month. Two of its fleet, a pair of hybrid electric-diesel Dongfeng 16-seater buses, were owned by a company directed by racing driver and minibus mogul Terence Tse Kin-leung, and part-funded by the Environmental Protection Department’s (EPD’s) subsidy scheme at an estimated HK$2.5 million, yet no records of the trial results could be found.
Further investigation found that the government had not properly reported another 45 out of 83 completed Pilot Green Transport Fund trials.
The Environmental Protection Department confirmed yesterday some reports had not yet been completed by April 2020, even from trials running in 2014, because of “staffing issues” at a third-party assessor, Jockey Club Heavy Vehicle Emissions Testing and Research (JCEC). “JCEC still needs more time to recruit staff for replacement and follow-up on the analysis of the data,” an EPD spokesman told Transit Jam yesterday.
But Hui says this is unreasonable. “I personally cannot accept that as a reason, I think that is quite nonsense,” he says, affirming he will raise the issue at a Legislative Council (LegCo) budget meeting tomorrow (23 April).
Hui says he and many in LegCo have been pushing the issue of electric vehicles for years now. “We’ve been urging the government for years that EVs should be used more commonly so as to reduce roadside emissions and pollutants. These trial reports are not only important for the companies who use the EVs or those who apply for testing them, they’re in the public interest. It’s an important issue,” he says.