Law and Enforcement

MEET HONG KONG’S FANCY NEW LICENSED SKIPS: SAME AS THE OLD SKIPS

A new registered skip (28/A0009) under a new government scheme was seen in a state of disarray, with broken lights and its QR code leading to a broken website

The government’s ailing skip registration scheme appears to have slunk into obscurity only months after its launch, with the scheme website down and a new licensed skip seen in the same poor state of repair and illegal deployment as regular roadside skips.

A Transit Jam reader sent in a photo of skip “A0009” licensed under the scheme. “The front light has broken off, while the two back lights were not working,” reported the reader. The skip was also located close to a road junction, which is forbidden under the licensing scheme.

A QR code on the side of the skip is labelled “Scan to Verify Certification Status”. But scanning the QR takes eager skip investigators to a placeholder website announcing the scheme is “currently under testing”.

That skipmanagement.hk website had previously given details of skip owners together with photos of each licensed skip and tips on legal and safe skip use.

Environment Protection Department (EPD), which ran the scheme, has not yet responded to questions posed last Friday (9 April) on whether the licensing scheme was still running, or why the website was down, and no further details could be found. A spokesperson says the department is still working on a reply.

In December, at the scheme’s launch, EPD said it hoped the pilot scheme could β€œraise the standards of skip operation in Hong Kong by promoting the skip operators to use the certified skips in a more responsible way in accordance with government road safety, street management and environmental requirements.”

The government also said government departments would be encouraged to hire only registered skip operators and certified skips β€œwith a view to promoting the implementation of the voluntary skips management system through market forces.” Government entities would only use licensed skips, EPD had said.

The scene of a fatal road crash in Wan Chai this week, where a woman crossing the road adjacent to the skip was fatally knocked down by a tram

Roadside skips are not supposed to block footpaths or be placed within 25 metres of pedestrian crossings or road junctions. They must be painted bright colours, have lights front and back, must not be overloaded and feature reflective markings, as well as the company name and contact details of the owner painted on the side. Operators are not allowed to extend the size of the skip walls using plywood or other materials.

In 2018, then-Acting Secretary for the Environment Tse Chin-wan said police and Lands Department were responsible for handling skip complaints, but that the police did not keep any statistics of complaint handling or enforcement. In case of refusal to comply, fines ranged from $500 to $3,500 and took up to six months to be prosecuted, Tse said.

This week, a woman was killed crossing the road next to a roadside skip, raising concerns that the reduced road visibility might have contributed to the crash.

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