LCQ11: Measures to facilitate cross-boundary vehicles
It has been reported that on the last day of the Easter holiday just past (i.e. April 10), the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) recorded more than 8 300 cross-boundary vehicle trips on a single day, which has been the highest single-day record since the commissioning of HZMB. Regarding measures to facilitate cross-boundary vehicles, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) as it has been reported that in recent months, there has been a significant increase in the number of new and renewal applications for the Closed Road Permit for Cross Boundary Vehicles (commonly known as Closed Area Permit), resulting in some applicants having waited for more than a month and their applications still having not been approved, and the Transport Department has hence implemented a contingency arrangement for streamlining the application procedures to accelerate the processing of applications, how much time is still needed as expected by the authorities to complete the processing of all the backlog of applications; given that the contingency arrangement will only be implemented until the 16th of this month, whether the authorities will regularize the arrangement after confirming that the relevant operation is smooth and feasible, so as to enhance the efficiency of vetting and approval; if not, of the reasons for that;
(2) as there are views pointing out that with the epidemic subsiding and the exchanges between Hong Kong and the Mainland resuming normal gradually, coupled with the forthcoming implementation of the Quota-free Scheme for Hong Kong Private Cars Travelling to Guangdong via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, it is estimated that the cross-boundary traffic flow will increase to a higher level, whether the Government has plans to set aside more resources and additional manpower to cope with the workload arising from the anticipated changes in cross-boundary traffic flow; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) given that in reply to a question raised by a Member of this Council on January 11 this year, the Government indicated that to further facilitate Hong Kong private cars to travel to and from Guangdong, the Government was preparing to implement the "unilateral recognition" policy for cross-boundary motor insurance so that the coverage of third-party insurance policies issued by Hong Kong insurers for Hong Kong private cars entering Guangdong via HZMB might be extended to cover third-party liability on the Mainland, sparing car owners from having to purchase separate policies for Hong Kong and the Mainland, of the progress of the Government's preparatory work for the unilateral recognition policy, and the estimated number of insurers providing relevant insurance products?
Pursuant to the full resumption of normal travel between Mainland and Hong Kong since February this year, transport between the two places has resumed and citizens begin to apply for or renew the required licences for the relevant cross-boundary vehicles. The Government endeavors to, on one hand, expedite the processing of relevant applications; and on the other hand, provide facilitation measures to meet the travel needs of citizens.
In consultation with the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau and the Transport Department (TD), my reply to Hon Adrian Ho's question is as follows:
(1) Upon resumption of normal travel, there has been a substantial increase in the number of closed road permit (CRP) applications for cross-boundary vehicles received by the TD from a daily average of 300 applications in January this year to a maximum of about 800 applications per day in February, thereby increasing the processing time. Besides, some applications are not submitted with full documents and result in longer processing time.
To expedite the processing of CRP applications, the TD has introduced the streamlined application procedures since February 17. The TD will process the applications and issue the CRP for applicants who have completed the application form with a valid Mainland Approval Notice issued by the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department as soon as possible, without the need of submission and vetting of other documents. Besides, the TD has been adopting corresponding measures to enhance the handling capacity and expedite the vetting process of CRP applications, which include arranging staff for overtime work on weekdays and weekend, deploying and recruiting additional staff, etc. The extended processing time was inevitable due to the upsurge in applications between February and March.
With TD's months of efforts, all applications pending processing have been vetted by end of April this year. At present, the vetting time for new CRP applications has resumed to within five working days in general, while renewal application can be completed within one day. The TD will consider extending the abovementioned streamlined CRP application procedures after reviewing the current working condition, with a view to deploying resources for handling other applications. Based on the approval arrangement of the governments of the two sides, the TD is required to ensure that all applications meet the requirements of both governments. The requirements for CRP applications are subject to review as appropriate for streamlining of application procedures.
(2) To facilitate the implementation of "Northbound Travel for Hong Kong Vehicles", the TD will continue to better utilise electronic services, deploy and recruit additional staff, etc. with a view to enhancing the capacity of handling applications. On the other hand, to further speed up the processing of applications, the TD will roll out electronic services in the fourth quarter of this year. Applicants can submit applications and make payments for the CRP fees through electronic methods, and be issued an electronic permit upon successful application. The TD will continue to monitor the handling situation of CRP applications and enhance the arrangement.
(3) The "unilateral recognition" policy for cross-boundary motor insurance will be rolled-out in step with the "Northbound Travel for Hong Kong Vehicles", so that the liability coverage of insurance policies issued by Hong Kong insurers for Hong Kong private cars entering Guangdong via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge may be extended to cover third-party liability on the Mainland, sparing car owners from having to purchase separate policies for Hong Kong and the Mainland. Currently, 16 insurance companies (taking up around 75 per cent of Hong Kong's motor insurance market) have confirmed to launch "unilateral recognition" motor insurance products, providing greater convenience for relevant Hong Kong private car owners.
Ends/Wednesday, May 3, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:00
Issued at HKT 12:00