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LCQ20: Hawker control policy

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Che-cheung and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (March 20):


     Some residents in Yuen Long district have relayed to me that the following areas in Yuen Long have been occupied by large stalls of itinerant hawkers for a long period of time: the pavements at Fau Tsoi Street, Yuen Long New Street, Yau Sun Street and Hong King Street; Chung Sing Path; and the areas in the vicinity of the at-grade fire escapes of Kwong Wah Plaza, Tong Yick Building, Citimall and Tin Yiu Estate. Such hawkers have continuously expanded their trading areas, causing obstruction to pedestrians and blocking pedestrians' view when they cross the roads. Also, their hawking activities have caused noise and refuse problems, affecting the daily lives of the residents nearby. A committee under the Yuen Long District Council had requested the authorities at a meeting to step up law enforcement, but the problems have not yet been solved. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the respective numbers of complaints received and prosecutions instituted by the authorities against hawking activities at the aforesaid locations in the past three years;

(b) of the policy on licensing of itinerant hawkers (including the specified hawking conditions);

(c) of the existing number of itinerant hawker licences; given that the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene may specify in a hawker licence the trading area of the licencee, of the existing number of itinerant hawkers who are allowed to hawk in Yuen Long district; and

(d) of the details of the management of and law enforcement actions in relation to the hawking activities of itinerant hawkers; what penalties will be imposed on itinerant hawkers who are repeated offenders, and whether the penalties include revocation of licences?



     The Government's policy on hawker control is to regulate the hawking activities of licensed hawkers and take enforcement action against illegal hawking so as to safeguard food safety and environmental hygiene. Generally speaking, if the hawking activity does not involve the selling of cooked food or food items that are prohibited or restricted for sale and provided that such activity is not conducted in major thoroughfares or areas of high pedestrian flow, officers of the Hawker Control Teams (HCTs) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) will give verbal warning first before taking enforcement action. Prosecution action will be taken only if the verbal warning is not heeded.

     My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

(a) From 2010 to 2012, FEHD had received, in respect of Yuen Long, 140 complaints related to hawkers. Over the same period, FEHD initiated 952 prosecutions.

(b) Licensed itinerant hawkers should comply with the Hawker Regulation (Cap. 132, Sub. Leg.) as well as the relevant licensing conditions imposed. Among others, they should not engage in selling any commodity or service that is not specified in their licences; they should at all times maintain the equipment that is used by them in connection with their business in a safe, clean, and hygienic condition; and they should ensure that no equipment used by them is placed in such a manner as to obstruct or interfere with the free flow of vehicular traffic or the free movement of pedestrians.

     If irregularities are found, HCT officers will normally give verbal warning to offenders first. Prosecution action will be taken if the verbal warning is not heeded. The offenders render themselves liable to a maximum fine of $5,000 upon conviction.

     Itinerant hawkers usually gather at prime locations when in operation. At such locations, their trolleys and goods would invariably impede pedestrian flow. At times, their hawking activity may also bring adverse impact on environmental hygiene. It is our existing policy not to issue any new itinerant hawker licences (IHLs). Nor do we allow succession to and transfer of IHLs. As such, the number of itinerant hawkers would gradually diminish through natural wastage.

(c) As at the end of December 2012, there are a total of 470 licensed itinerant hawkers in Hong Kong. Among them, 236 are in urban areas and 234 in the New Territories. They are allowed to conduct hawking activities in the areas specified in their licences, i.e. itinerant hawkers in the urban areas may conduct hawking activities in various districts on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon, while those in the New Territories may conduct hawking activities in various districts in the New Territories, including the Islands District. There are currently over 30 licensed itinerant hawkers conducting hawking activities in Yuen Long.

(d) FEHD is alive to the problem of obstruction to passageways caused by the street hawking activities of itinerant hawkers. Apart from conducting inspections, FEHD also takes due enforcement actions. If any licensed itinerant hawker is found hawking at hawker black-spots, major thoroughfares or areas of high pedestrian flow, thus causing obstruction, HCT staff will take enforcement actions direct without giving any prior verbal warning. Insofar as repeat offenders are concerned, FEHD would, in light of the circumstances of individual cases, consider exercising the power conferred by the legislation to suspend or cancel the hawker licences as necessary, for achieving the desired deterrent effect.

Ends/Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Issued at HKT 14:52


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