LCQ20: Skips placed on streets

     Following is a question by the Hon Kam Nai-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, at the Legislative Council meeting today (March 9):


     In the past, quite a number of members of the public complained that the cargo compartments (commonly known as "skips") temporarily placed on streets for collecting construction waste had an adverse impact on the traffic and environmental hygiene.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of inspections conducted by the authorities on their own initiative in the past three years on the compliance or otherwise by vehicle owners and drivers concerned with the Guidelines for Mounting and Placing of Skips issued by the Transport Department, and the number of drivers or vehicle owners who had been prosecuted for not complying with the guidelines;

(b) whether it knows the number of accidents caused by skips to people or vehicles in Hong Kong in the past three years, with a breakdown by 18 District Council (DC) districts;

(c) whether it knows the number of skips placed on streets in various districts in Hong Kong in the past three years, with a breakdown by 18 DC districts;

(d) of the number of complaints about skips received by the authorities in the past three years, with a breakdown by 18 DC districts; how the authorities had handled the complaints upon receipt; and the time required to handle such complaints; and

(e) whether it will consider establishing a licensing system to step up the regulation of skips; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(a) When the Police receive reports on any skip causing serious obstruction or imminent danger to members of the public or vehicles, the Police will take appropriate actions, including removing the skip immediately, under section 4A of the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228) on the offence of obstruction of public places.  The record shows that the Police have removed 21 skips in the past three years and instituted prosecutions against the persons involved in 17 of these cases.

(b) Based on the statistics of the Transport Department on traffic accidents, the number of traffic accidents involving vehicles hitting skips and causing human injuries or death in 2010, with a breakdown by 18 DC districts, is given in the table below.  As collection of the concerned data only began in late 2009, no information on the statistics in 2009 or before is available.

District                2010
--------                 ----
Central and Western        3
Southern                   6
Wan Chai                   4
Eastern                   13
Kwun Tong                  8
Wong Tai Sin               7
Kowloon City               1
Sham Shui Po               2
Yau Tsim Mong              0
Islands                    2
Northern                   0
Sai Kung                   5
Sha Tin                    3
Tai Po                     1
Tuen Mun                   2
Tsuen Wan                  5
Kwai Tsing                 0
Yuen Long                  4
Total                     66

(c) The Administration has not gathered information on the number of skips placed on streets in the 18 DC districts.

(d) In the past three years, the number of complaints about skips received by the Administration, with a breakdown by 18 DC districts, is given in the table below.

District                2008     2009     2010
--------                ----     ----     ----
Central and Western      31       40       55
Southern                 19        3       10
Wan Chai                 55       40      113
Eastern                  71       86       99
Kwun Tong                14       21       24
Wong Tai Sin              8       10       11
Kowloon City             33       28       47
Sham Shui Po             18       17       30
Yau Tsim Mong           104      106      103
Islands                   0        0        0
Northern                  1        3        1
Sai Kung                 16       19       27
Sha Tin                   7       10        7
Tai Po                    2        1        1
Tuen Mun                  1        4        7
Tsuen Wan                12       23       23
Kwai Tsing                6        6        3
Yuen Long                 2        4        1
Total                   400      421      562

     Generally speaking, staff of the District Land Offices (DLO) would (normally within two working days) inspect the site after receiving a complaint.  If a skip is found occupying government land, a notice will be posted on the skip in accordance with the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance (Cap. 28).  The owner would normally be required to remove the skip within one day.  DLO staff usually found that the skip had already been removed when they inspected the site again on the notice expiry day.

(e) Skips serve the practical needs of the construction trade and fitting-out trade.  As far as the public is concerned, the use of skips is in line with the practical needs of the communities as it would prevent improper depositing of construction waste and hence would help reduce environmental and hygiene problems.

     The Steering Committee on District Administration (SCDA), convened by the Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs (PSHA) with membership comprising the concerned government departments (including the Home Affairs Department, Lands Department, Police, Transport Department and Environmental Protection Department etc), had considered the proposal for a permit system for regulation of roadside skips in Hong Kong.  The SCDA noted that the existing legislation would not provide adequate legislative backing for the introduction of an effective skip permit system.  On the other hand, existing legislation has already empowered the Administration to take enforcement action against skips causing imminent danger or serious obstruction to road users.  The SCDA considered that the most practicable way was to step up regulation of skips by the relevant departments under the existing legislative framework. Specifically, if skips pose serious obstruction or imminent danger to road users, the Police will take action under section 4A of the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228).  The Police, upon receipt of complaints, would arrive at the scene and arrange for removal of such skips as soon as practicable pursuant to section 4A of Cap. 228.  The Lands Department will also deal with complaint cases involving unauthorised occupation of government land under the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance (Cap. 28).

Ends/Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Issued at HKT 15:02