Members of transport workers unions in Hong Kong have called on lawmakers to examine the causes of last week’s fatal bus accident that killed two top international chefs and a taxi driver in Shau Kei Wan last week.
Union representatives, speaking at a legislative council panel on Tuesday morning, urged lawmakers to not only focus on the driver’s health, which was initially thought to be the cause of the accident, but also on other factors that may have played a role in order to better understand the pressures placed on professional drivers. The union representatives particularly stressed that factors outside of the driver’s control, such as poor road conditions, may play a role in accidents involving public transport vehicles.
Two double decker buses collided and crashed into a taxi in last week’s accident, killing all three people in the taxi and injuring more than 50. The taxi passengers were 30 year old Swede Carl Lindgren and 34 year old Briton Jorge Herrena, who were both top chefs at celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal’s world renowned British restaurant, the Fat Duck.
Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, the Hong Kong Transport and Housing chief, extended his condolences to the victims of the accidents and their families, saying that he was deeply saddened by the incident.
A representative from the Kowloon Motor Bus branch of the Motor Transport General Union, Cheng Wai-kwan, said that paying stricter attention to the health status of professional drivers following an accidnet may place additional pressure on the drivers, and that other factors should also be considered. According to another speaker, Cheung Tsz-kei of the Long Win Bus branch, the health checks for drivers are already restrictive, and some drivers have been forced to leave their jobs even though they have no serious illnesses that could jeopardise their passengers.
Although initial reports indicate that the driver of last week’s accident may have experienced a medical condition that lead to the accident, union members note that in most bus accidents, the driver is declared healthy by medical staff and other factors come into play. Union members therefore urged lawmakers to look into the poor road conditions and congestion in the city, that they believe puts added pressure on drivers. In addition, the unions recommend better enforcement of guidelines around the working hours for bus drivers.
Current guidelines in Hong Kong recommend a maximum working day of 14 hours with at least 10 hours break between successive working days.