A taxi driver was arrested in a police sting operation for allegedly overcharging for a journey in the early hours of Sunday. The move came amid increasing crackdown on overcharging taxi drivers last month.

An undercover officer posed as a passenger in Lan Kwai Fong in Central heading to a hotel in North Point. The driver, 42, did not start the taxi metre, and instead asked for HK$200 upon arrival. The fare would have amounted to around HK$55 on the metre. The officer revealed his identity and arrested the driver, reported Ming Pao.

File photo of Hong Kong taxis. Photo: Wikicommons.

Lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said taxi drivers overcharging customers is a problem that has existed for some time. They target mainland Chinese tourists with lots of shopping bags, or inebriated passengers in Lan Kwai Fong who are less guarded, he said. He added that enforcement on the law has to be stronger while the authorities should also increase the penalty on overcharging to deter such acts.

To Sun-tong, a representative of the Motor Transport Workers General Union, said that the police should continue to crack down on overcharging taxi drivers, rather than only act when tourists and members of the public complain about them.

Police arrested a total of nine taxi drivers who overcharged in a number of undercover operations in August, where officers posed as passengers on journeys including Tsim Sha Tsui to the airport on August 15, Central to the Peak on August 21 and Lan Kwai Fong to North Point on August 29.

Licensed taxi drivers are facing increasing competition from taxi-hailing apps such as Uber. In July, a group of taxi drivers urged the government to do more to regulate the industry.

The act of overcharging taxi passengers can carry a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a HK$10,000 fine.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.