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Police clamp down on overloaded minibuses

Local | Sophie Hui May 17, 2018
Police arrested three red minibus drivers for overloading their vehicles yesterday, with one even having 25 passengers in a 19-seat bus. At 5am yesterday, police conducted an operation codenamed "Countercrush," targeting public service vehicles. Some 10 officers assumed the role of passengers and deployed police vehicles in traffic stops to record and gather evidence. Officers stopped three suspected overloaded minibuses in Yuen Long. A police spokesman said a 71-year-old female driver was arrested for having 25 passengers on board a 19-seat minibus. Two male drivers, aged 43 and 54, were also arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving with an extra two and three passengers respectively in their 16-seat minibuses. To accommodate the extra passengers, the drivers used wooden boxes as seats and even allowed passengers to stand. The three minibuses were impounded by police for violations of the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations. Officers also collected information from all passengers on the minibuses before letting them go. The three drivers serviced the route from Tai Tong Wong Nai Tun to Yuen Long district center. The journey takes less than 10 minutes, while the fare is HK$5. Since there aren't any double-decker buses or green minibuses operating between 5am and 6am, people can only use red minibuses, so it is common to see overcrowded minibuses, police said. Acting Station Sergeant of New Territories North (Traffic) Wong Kwok-yuen said there have been cases of minibuses being filled beyond capacity in the past, with some vehicles even having seven or eight extra passengers. "Passengers have to stand or sit on some unstable object like a wooden box next to the driver's seat. This poses a potential danger to the passengers," Wong said. Police will continue targeting activities which endanger the safety of road users, and urged citizens and drivers of public service vehicles to provide relevant information should they witness anything. A minibus driver who covers the same route, surnamed Kan, said he was aware of minibuses being overloaded early in the morning. He admitted that it is dangerous for passengers and other vehicles on the road if minibuses are overcrowded. One passenger, surnamed Chan, said red minibuses are one of the main means of transport during rush hour. Another passenger, surnamed Tse, said that she has seen a passenger sitting next to the driver before. As for one passenger, surnamed Cheng, she made it clear that she will not board an overcrowded minibus since it is too dangerous. sophie.hui@singtaonewscorp.com


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