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LCQ19: Implementation details for cross-boundary private cars ad hoc quota trial scheme

     Following is a question by the Hon James To and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, at the Legislative Council meeting today (February 15):


     In view of increasingly frequent exchanges between Guangdong and Hong Kong in recent years, the Government has announced that it will launch the trial scheme on one-off ad hoc quotas for Guangdong/Hong Kong cross-boundary private cars ("self-drive tour scheme") in March this year.

     In the first phase Hong Kong private cars will be permitted to enter Guangdong Province for self-drive tours on a trial basis, and in the second phase private cars from Guangdong Province will be permitted entry to Hong Kong. Regarding the co-operation between the governments of Hong Kong and Guangdong over the self-drive tour scheme and the possible problems that may result from the differences between the two places (such as traffic regulations, etc.), will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the eligibility criteria of the self-drive tour scheme and the respective numbers of one-off quotas for self-drive tours in the aforesaid two phases;

(b) when some Mainland drivers making self-drive tours breach the traffic regulations of Hong Kong, how the Government will ensure that it will not fail to impose punishment on them because they have left Hong Kong; whether the Government will consider establishing a mechanism to publish a list of repeated traffic offenders so that law enforcement officers at boundary control points may stop these repeated offenders from driving into or out of the territory;

(c) given the obvious differences in the control of pollutant discharge from vehicles between the Mainland and Hong Kong at present, how the Government will exercise control on in-coming vehicles which do not meet the emission standards for vehicles in Hong Kong;

(d) whether the Government has at present provided guidance and training for frontline law enforcement officers to cater for the implementation of the self-drive tour scheme;

(e) since it has been learnt that the measures for drivers and passengers of cross-boundary vehicles to cross the boundary without alighting from vehicles are implemented at Shenzhen Bay Port ("SBP") at present and passengers will only be required to alight for inspection if those vehicles are found to be suspicious, whether the existing software and hardware facilities at SBP are sufficient to cater for people taking part in self-drive tours to cross the boundary through SBP; if so, of the details; if not, whether it has any plan to upgrade the facilities; if it has, of the timetable; and

(f) given that the original intent of the self-drive tour scheme is to promote exchanges between Guangdong and Hong Kong and facilitate members of the public to travel by self-driving, how the Government will prevent people from abusing the scheme, e.g. using the vehicles under the self-drive tour scheme for conveying passengers and transporting goods for business purposes?



     The governments of Guangdong and Hong Kong will launch the first phase of the ad hoc quota trial scheme for cross-boundary private cars (the Scheme) in March 2012, under which qualified owners of Hong Kong private cars with five seats or less are allowed to apply for such quotas to enter Guangdong for a short stay not longer than seven days.  Arrangements for Guangdong private cars to enter Hong Kong fall under the second phase of the Scheme, of which there is no concrete timetable.  Experts of the two governments will further study and discuss cautiously the specific arrangements for the second phase of the Scheme when there is experience in smooth operation after implementing the first phase for a period of time.

     Our respective answers to the six parts of the question are as follows:

(a) At the initial period of the first phase of the Scheme, the number of quotas will be set at no more than 50 each day. The applicant must be the registered owner of a right-hand drive private car with five seats or less that is registered and licensed in Hong Kong. The vehicle owner can register in the name of an individual or a company. If the registered owner of the vehicle is a company, the company must be incorporated in Hong Kong and must authorise a director or staff member of the company to act as the applicant. The applicant must be a resident of Hong Kong holding a valid "Home Visit Permit", and should also be the designated driver. Applications will be assessed by the governments of Guangdong and Hong Kong separately. Those applications rejected by either side will not be approved. The successful applicant, before departing for the Mainland, must take out Mainland compulsory traffic accident liability insurance for motor vehicles and complete in Hong Kong other formalities as required by the Public Security Department of Guangdong Province and various relevant Mainland authorities. The relevant arrangements and implementation details for the second phase of the Scheme would require further deliberation by the experts of Guangdong and Hong Kong authorities.

(b) As replied in part (a), the relevant arrangements and implementation details for the second phase of the Scheme would require further deliberation by the experts of Guangdong and Hong Kong authorities. This notwithstanding, we can confirm that, all Mainland motorists and vehicles coming to Hong Kong under the Scheme must observe local laws and regulations. Offenders will be prosecuted in accordance with the law. Just as presently the cases of Mainland motorists breaking the traffic ordinances in Hong Kong, the Police would, having regard to the offences committed, issue fixed penalty tickets or summons. In the case of serious offence, the Police can also make arrest.  Depending on the seriousness of the offence, the offenders may be intercepted at the control points and referred to the Police for action. If necessary, the Police will seek assistance from the Mainland public security authorities in the investigation according to the existing mechanism.

(c) In determining the arrangements for the second phase of the Scheme, we will definitely have regard to the environment. Similar to what we have done in the first phase, while formulating the relevant arrangements, we will adhere to some important principles. These principles include: (a) to exercise with due care by first launching a trial to ascertain the effects; (b) to introduce the scheme under a highly regulated environment, with road safety and network capacity as the fundamental considerations and taking into account the impact on the environment; and (c) to start with a small number of quotas, which can be adjusted flexibly having regard to special circumstances. Full details are required in all the applications and they will be vetted carefully.

(d) and (e) The Immigration Department, Customs and Excise Department, the Police as well as the Department of Health have taken part actively in the discussion of and preparation for the implementation of the Scheme, and are fully geared up for receiving the first batch of vehicles under the first phase of the Scheme at the Shenzhen Bay Port at end April. The specific arrangements and implementation details of the second phase still require further deliberations by experts of the two governments. As there are already Guangdong vehicles running on Hong Kong roads under the regular quota system, the relevant departments have considerable experience in handling these vehicles when discharging their duties. No major problems have been encountered. We will ensure the preparation work is done properly and that sufficient training and resources will be provided to the frontline law enforcement officers prior to introducing the second phase of the Scheme to facilitate their enforcement work.

     With regard to the hardware facilities, only 50 quotas will be issued to Hong Kong private car owners per day under the first phase of the Scheme. Compared with the current average daily traffic flow of about 10,000 vehicle trips at the Shenzhen Bay Port, the impact should be minimal. Existing clearance facilities and manpower at the control point will be adequate to cope with the increase in vehicular flow. To ensure smooth operation of the control point, we will require the vehicles under the Scheme to use designated clearance kiosks.

(f) We have considered with due care the arrangements of the Scheme in order to prevent abuse as far as possible. First of all, we would require that the applicant must be the owner of the private car concerned. It is also required that each owner can only apply for one quota at one time, and that a new reservation can only be made at least six weeks from the quota start date of the last quota approved, i.e. a minimum of ten weeks between two quotas issued. Also, the applicant has to be on board the vehicle concerned at the time of exit and entry, and stay for not more than seven days.

     The relevant Guangdong and Hong Kong enforcement departments will vigorously combat commercial uses of cross-boundary private cars, including those issued with ad hoc quotas, which is illegal.  The Police will monitor the situation closely and step up random checks on cross-boundary vehicles to deter such offences. If private cars issued with ad hoc quotas are found to have been used for illegal purposes, prosecution will be initiated by the relevant enforcement authorities in accordance with the law. New ad hoc quota applications by the owners or drivers concerned will not be accepted once they are convicted or before the related legal proceedings are concluded.

     The governments of Guangdong and Hong Kong will possess detailed information of the applicants, drivers and vehicles using ad hoc quotas. In case of non-compliance with the laws and regulations, the two governments can follow up with the persons involved in accordance with the law. Holders of ad hoc quota are only allowed to make one round trip to and from the Guangdong Province during the specified period and through the Shenzhen Bay Port. These requirements will facilitate follow-up and investigation of suspected cases by the law enforcement departments.

     We are confident that we can effectively tackle the problem of potential abuse of the quotas.

Ends/Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:09


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