Hong Kong taxi drivers have something of a reputation for taking non-locals for the proverbial ride – whether by over-charging or taking the most circuitous route to any given destination.
Police posing as tourists caught one city cabbie in the act on Thursday evening.
Apple Daily reports that a trio of plainclothes constables hailed a cab at the Garden Road Tram Terminus in Central, a busy tourist spot, and asked them to drive to The Peak.
The 61-year-old cabbie was arrested upon arrival when he charged HK$100 (US$13) for the ride, some HK$30 higher than the metered fare.
Traffic officials examining the case were left scratched their heads at the mark-up, but it may help explain how the driver has come to own multiple taxis and lives in an exclusive residential tower. According to the HK01 newspaper, he also owns a spacious, luxurious condo on Kennedy Road, in the affluent Mid-Levels district, with a market value of at least HK$16 million.
Hong Kong maintains an open bidding mechanism for taxi licenses, and licenses for taxi in urban areas have reportedly fetched as much as HK$6.35 million.
Hong Kong’s laws stipulate a clear penalty for taxi malpractices, with the maximum penalty being a fine of HK$10,000 and imprisonment for six months.
Extreme cases in which taxi drivers robbed passengers of their luggage have also been reported in previous years.
Hong Kong police remind passengers that, when taking a taxi, they should take a note of the time, destination and taxi plate number, as well as the name of the driver as shown on the car’s dashboard, and report any malpractice to the police.