Office of The Ombudsman announces results of direct investigation into problem of alleged illegal operation of kaito ferry service (with photo)


The following is issued on behalf of the Office of The Ombudsman:


     The Ombudsman, Ms Winnie Chiu, today (September 1) announced at a press conference the completion of a direct investigation into the problem of alleged illegal operation of kaito ferry service, and made 10 recommendations for improvement to the Marine Department (MD) and the Transport Department (TD).


     In general, kaito service is the mode of point-to-point marine transport charging passengers separate fares for commuting to and from remote destinations in Hong Kong that are largely inaccessible by roads. Operators are required to apply for kaito ferry service licences from the TD and provide the service with specified vessels.


     Investigation by the Office of The Ombudsman revealed the prevalence of illegal kaito service. However, there is currently no government department dedicated to monitoring the issue of unlicensed kaito service. While the MD monitors the carriage of passengers by local vessels, its patrols were found to be ineffective in deterring such irregularities. The MD has also failed to adequately clarify the meaning and restriction of using Class IV pleasure vessels for prescribed purposes. Meanwhile, the TD has not implemented effective measures to assist the public to identify unlicensed or illegal kaito service.


     Ms Chiu said, “In recent years, excursions to the outlying islands and remote local spots have become popular pastimes of the public. Given the thriving demand for kaito service, it is incumbent upon the authorities to step up monitoring of kaito service and curbing illegal carriage of passengers so as to ensure public safety.”


     The Office has made 10 recommendations for improvement to the MD and the TD, which include:


  • The MD to conduct more frequent patrols and decoy operations, as well as draw up guidelines on the inspection of vessels to enhance deterrence against irregularities;


  • The MD to explain clearly the restriction of using Class IV vessels “exclusively for pleasure purposes” to assist the public to identify illegal carriage of passengers by vessels. The TD to elaborate on the elements of marine transport that constitute kaito service requiring such a licence, and step up publicity to assist the public in easy identification of licensed kaito ferries;


  • The TD to assess the supply and demand of licensed kaito routes and their service standard, and implement measures for monitoring illegal operation of kaito service to ensure prompt referral of suspected irregularities to the Police for further action; and


  • The MD to step up publicity to raise awareness of passenger safety on chartered pleasure vessels and kaito ferries.


     The MD and the TD have in general accepted all of the Office’s recommendations.


     The full investigation report has been uploaded to the website of the Office of The Ombudsman at for public information.