Ombudsman Probes Regulatory Measures and Enforcement Actions against Street Obstruction by Shops
17 July 2013
The Ombudsman, Mr Alan Lai, declares today (17 July 2013) a direct investigation into the Administration’s regulatory measures and enforcement actions against street obstruction caused by shops.
The Office of The Ombudsman frequently receives complaints about street obstruction, including perennial occupation of pedestrian passageways by goods, illegal hawking in public places by shop operators, and erection of unauthorised structures by shops. Where the pavement is blocked, pedestrians are often forced to step onto the traffic lane, causing inconvenience and even posing a hazard to the public. We consider that the problem must be taken seriously.
Street obstruction by shops falls within the purviews of a number of Government departments. Where the extension of business area constitutes street obstruction or illegal hawking, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has the statutory powers to take enforcement actions. The Lands Department and the Buildings Department can also invoke relevant laws to curb illegal occupation of Government land by shops and/or their unauthorised structures. Moreover, the Home Affairs Department is required to coordinate joint inter-departmental operations in districts where the problem is serious.
Further to the direct investigation completed in March 2013 on illegal extension of business area by restaurants, The Ombudsman has decided to initiate another direct investigation on the subject of street obstruction by shops, so as to cover shops other than restaurants, such as flower shops, groceries and drug stores. Fixed-pitch stalls including newsstands and hawker stalls are not covered in this investigation as they are under a different regulatory regime.
From the complaint cases that we have handled and our general observations, we note that the regulatory measures and enforcement actions taken by the departments concerned against street obstruction by shops have not been effective. The problem has persisted and appears to be getting worse. In this direct investigation, we will identify and analyse the reasons and make recommendations to the departments concerned for improvement.
The Ombudsman welcomes public views and other information on this investigation. Comments should reach the Office of The Ombudsman by16 August 2013:
Address : 30/F, China Merchants Tower, Shun Tak Centre
168-200 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong
Fax : 2882 8149
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
For press enquiries, please contact Ms Kathleen Chan, Senior Manager (External Relations) (Tel: 2629 0565).
Office of The Ombudsman
17 July 2013