Following is a question by the Hon Chan Siu-hung and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Lam Sai-hung, in the Legislative Council today (November 9):
Regarding the regulation of the vehicle maintenance trade, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the up-to-date registration situation under the Voluntary Registration Scheme for Vehicle Mechanics (including the number of registered mechanics and its percentage in the total number of vehicle mechanics (VMs) in Hong Kong);
(2) of the up-to-date registration situation under the Voluntary Registration Scheme for Vehicle Maintenance Workshops (including the number of registered workshops and its percentage in the total number of vehicle maintenance workshops (VMWs) in Hong Kong);
(3) as the Government indicated in its reply to a question raised by a Member of this Council in respect of the Estimates of Expenditure 2022-23 that the Government had been examining the introduction of a mandatory registration system for both VMs and VMWs, of the progress of the examination work and the expected implementation timetable;
(4) whether it has reviewed the main distribution of VMWs currently in Hong Kong, including the numbers of workshops situated in street-level shops of buildings, open working areas and multi-storey industrial buildings, as well as their respective percentages in the total number of VMWs in Hong Kong; and
(5) as quite a number of members of the public are concerned about the fire safety of VMWs operating in street-level shops in urban areas as well as the problems that may be generated by them, such as noise and illegal parking, of the authorities' regulatory measures in place to ensure the fire safety of those workshops and that their operations will not cause nuisance to the residents nearby, and whether relevant government departments such as the Environmental Protection Department and the Hong Kong Fire Services Department will regularly inspect those workshops; if so, of the details?
The Government has respectively introduced the Voluntary Registration Scheme for Vehicle Mechanics (VRSVM) and the Voluntary Registration Scheme for Vehicle Maintenance Workshops (VRSVMW) with an aim of enhancing the overall standard of the local vehicle maintenance trade. Drawing on the experience of implementing these two schemes, the Government is examining the feasibility of and viable options for introducing a mandatory registration system for both vehicle mechanics (VMs) and vehicle maintenance workshops (VMWs), with a view to keeping up with the development of vehicle technology and maintenance needs, ensuring that the public can have safe and reliable services and facilitating their choice of such services, as well as providing continuous professional development and opportunities for practitioners in the trade. The reply to the various parts of the question raised by the Hon Chan Siu-hung is as follows:
(1) and (2) As at September 2022, there are 8 237 VMs registered under the VRSVM, representing about 80 per cent of the total number of VMs in Hong Kong; and 2 050 VMWs registered under the VRSVMW, representing about 74 per cent of the total number of VMWs in Hong Kong.
(3) Following the Government's publication of the first Hong Kong Roadmap on Popularisation of Electric Vehicles (EV Roadmap) and the Hong Kong's Climate Action Plan 2050 (Action Plan) in March and October 2021 respectively, electric vehicles (EVs) will gain popularity and gradually replace private cars that run on gasoline or diesel. In this connection, the Government has been actively discussing with the trade, academia and training institutes, professional bodies, vehicle owners' associations and other stakeholders to jointly study how the EV Roadmap, the Action Plan and the development of the EV trade may affect the vehicle maintenance trade (including the registration system for VMs and VMWs). Among them, the Vehicle Maintenance Technical Advisory Committee (VMTAC), established by the Government with the trade, has suggested taking the first step by adding dedicated classes of service pertaining to VMs and VMWs for EVs under the existing voluntary registration system for vehicle maintenance. Discussions are being held between the VMTAC and major stakeholders on voluntary registration for EV maintenance, with a view to putting forward proposals on registration requirements, detailed arrangements and implementation timeframe in 2023/24. The Government and the VMTAC will also in parallel examine the introduction of a mandatory registration system for both VMs and VMWs by keeping close liaison with the stakeholders so as to formulate an appropriate regulatory framework and schedule with due considerations to the latest developments, including the aforesaid maintenance needs of EVs.
(4) The Government does not maintain a breakdown of statistics on the distribution of VMWs in Hong Kong by categories listed in the question. Nevertheless, for reference, the 2 050 VMWs registered under the VRSVMW are categorised into four types, viz. 86 Type One VMWs which cover franchised bus company or vehicle dealer workshops; 91 Type Two VMWs having at least five vehicle working bays; 1 079 Type Three VMWs having at least one vehicle working bay; and 794 Type Four VMWs located in residential buildings or composite buildings with domestic part. All these VMWs should have working bay with fixed cover. Some VMWs under Types One, Two and Three are situated in multi-storey industrial buildings, while some under Type Four are situated in street-level shops of buildings.
(5) As the Government attaches great importance to the safe operation of VMWs, various departments impose suitable regulation on VMWs in accordance with the relevant ordinances. On fire safety, the Fire Services Department (FSD) conducts inspections of VMWs in various districts to ensure compliance with the Dangerous Goods Ordinance (Cap. 295) and the Fire Services Ordinance (Cap. 95). In the past two years (2020 and 2021), the FSD conducted over 2 000 inspections. On the safe use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department conducted some 12 000 inspections of VMWs and instituted two prosecutions in relation to the discovery of excessive storage of LPG in VMWs in the past two years. On noise, no industrial, commercial or business premises, including VMWs, shall emit excessive noise to cause nuisance to nearby residents. The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) imposes control on such premises pursuant to the Noise Control Ordinance (Cap. 400). In the past two years, the EPD conducted more than 270 inspections and surprise visits in respect of noise nuisance caused by VMWs, and issued nearly 70 pieces of verbal advice or written warnings. As for occupational safety and health (OSH), the Labour Department (LD) conducts inspections of VMWs in various districts to curb practices in breach of OSH legislation. In the past two years, LD officers carried out more than 2 000 surprise inspections of VMWs and issued over 300 written warnings on the OSH of VMW employees, with issuance of suspension notices/improvement notices to VMWs or institution of prosecutions where appropriate.
Ends/Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:00