【明報專訊】MANY taxis have suddenly gone dead on the road. Not only does that affect cabbies' livelihood, but that may also endanger taxi drivers, their fares and other road users. The problem is very serious indeed. To date the authorities have yet to identify the cause of it, and it has come to light that the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD), which licenses and monitors LPG filling stations, has only examined import certificates. It does not do even basic regular checks on LPG quality. In our view, the EMSD must no longer rely solely on LPG-suppliers' self-regulation. It should set up an effective system so that it can carry out supervision to make sure that imported auto-LPG is up to standard.
If is extremely dangerous for a taxi or minibus to stall when being driven. It may not be possible for vehicles following it to stop in time. In that event, a bad road accident may ensue. A cabbie cannot do business if his cab is liable to stall, and he must also pay much money for its repair. However, what is most important is safety. The problem is very worrying. According to some cabbies, because many taxis have suddenly gone dead on the road and dangerous things have happened, many taxi drivers have the jitters. Now taxi and minibus drivers seem to have to stake their safety on their luck. That is totally unacceptable.
The serious problem bears on citizens' safety, but the EMSD is unable to identify its cause promptly. We believe that has much to do with its lax supervision. The EMSD does not carry out regular checks on LPG quality. It only examines import certificates. It has said by way of explanation that, when LPG taxis were introduced, the government adopted the internationally accepted practice because import certificates are issued by independent third parties. The EMSD has failed to find out why many taxi have gone dead on the road because no regular checks are made on LPG quality. It has admitted that, since it does not tests auto-LPG, it lacks the equipment to do so. Now it must do tests because of the problem, it has hastened to acquire containers for taking pressurised gas samples.
The EMSD is in passivity because it lacks even basic sampling equipment. We believe it has not promptly discovered what has caused the problem because it has been inactive for years. It is clear from what has happened that, to ensure that imported LPG is up to standard, it is not sufficient just to examine import certificates.
The EMSD has taken remedial actions. It has taken LPG samples from nozzles at filling stations with a view to identifying the cause of the problem. Furthermore, it has actively talked with the five auto-LPG suppliers with a view to setting up a comprehensive system for monitoring auto-LPG quality. It will buy the equipment it needs to carry out tests. It will regularly test LPG samples from every one of the 59 filling stations, at least once a year. We hope the EMSD will carry out the measures mentioned above as soon as possible to make sure that no problems will arise in any link of the supply chain of auto-LPG. We hope it will no longer rely solely on LPG suppliers' self-regulation.