This undated photo shows passengers boarding a kaito ferry in Hong Kong. (PHOTO / INFORMATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT, HKSAR GOVT)
HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s ombudsman on Thursday said it was investigating alleged illegal operations of kaito ferry services following reports of irregularities found in such services.
There have been reports of irregularities such as the operation of kaito ferry services without a licence, overloading and failure to provide sufficient life-saving appliances on board, according to the ombudsdman
In a statement, Ombudsman Winnie Chiu Wai-yin said they would examine whether the Marine Department and the Transport Department have put in place a regulatory system and taken actions against any illegal operations of kaito services “adequately and effectively".
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According to Chiu, the Marine Department is responsible for enforcing Hong Kong's maritime legislation to regulate local vessels, while the Transport Department is the regulator of ferry services, including kaito services.
With the outlying islands and rural coastal areas becoming popular spots for local tourism, there has been an increase in the demand for short-haul local marine transport services, such as kaito services, according to the statement.
However, there have been reports of irregularities in services provided by local vessels, including the operation of kaito services without a license, overloading and failure to provide sufficient life-saving appliances on board, according to the statement.
The Ombudsman said the safety risks “posed to the passengers should not be overlooked,” adding that it was the responsibility of the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of local marine transport.
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