Government cars have come under the spotlight, with a scathing new report from the Audit Commission

The Audit Commission (AC) has found huge irregularities in the government’s vehicle use, driver working hours and chauffeur training. One of a string of problematic findings was that among government chauffeurs found at fault in road crashes in the last three years, only 17% had taken the necessary Remedial Training Course.

In a scathing 89-page report, AC found evidence of 5,637 vehicles claimed as “used” by departments but with zero fuel consumption or odometer readings – and some claims from other departments that vehicles had travelled over 1,000 km a day on average over a month. It found 318 vehicles driven less than 1 km per day and huge delays, as much as five years, in reports of vehicle use from departments and bureaus.

AC’s investigation found 566 vehicles still in use after they were supposed to be scrapped, against guidelines. Almost a thousand rental vehicles from 34 departments and bureaus were unaccounted for in monthly quota returns.

Electric vehicles now account for around 4% of Hong Kong’s government vehicle fleet

And in direct contradiction to the government’s stated aims of increasing popularisation of electric vehicles (EVs), AC also noted the number of EVs in the government fleet had been steadily declining – the number of EVs in the fleet declined by 32% between 2017 and 2020 and EVs now represent just 4% of the fleet.

The investigation does point out that the reduction in EVs was mainly due to two fires involving police motorbikes, after which 40 electric motorcycles were retired. The government now says for private cars with not more than five seats, department or bureau heads need to give justifications for buying non-EV cars.

For driver training, chauffeurs involved in accidents and found to be at fault are required to take Remedial Training, but AC found only a handful of such drivers crashing government cars in the last three years had enrolled on such a course. Of 203 chauffeurs supposed to take the courses, only 35 had. For non-chauffeurs, around 140 at-fault drivers were slated for Remedial Training but only 10 of them had taken the courses, according to AC’s figures.

Furthermore, AC found a large number of instances of drivers working more than 14 hours a day, including five instances of drivers working more than 18 hours a day.

The Government Logistics Department (GLD), responsible for handling government vehicle contracts, spent $615.3 million on general purpose vehicles from 2016 to 2020, purchasing 2,000 vehicles through 48 contracts. GLD says it agrees with ACs findings and will step up its efforts.

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