A dispute between a village chief in Sai Kung and the female owner of a speedboat services firm became so heated over the weekend that police had to be called in.
On Saturday, the head of a rural community in Sai Wan, an area famous for its beautiful beaches, confronted a speedboat operator after finding a fishnet barricade along the coastline damaged.
The village chief, a person surnamed Lai, complained that a speedboat belonging to the firm had smashed into a fishnet that had been set up to prevent vessels from picking up customers illegally.
The owner of the firm — an entity named Cheong Kei — refuted the charges, saying none of her vessels was involved in the alleged incident.
But the village chief insisted that Cheong Kei was responsible for the damage, sparking a war of words with the owner of the boat services firm.
As the quarrel intensified and threated to go out of hand, some passersby called the police.
Officers from the police’s Organized Crime and Triad Bureau arrived at the scene and tried to mitigate the bickering, news website hk01.com reports.
Lai told the police that he is entitled to fence off the beach as he has the authority to do so, and that Cheong Kei has breached an agreement.
According to Lai, Cheong Kei began its service several years ago, charging HK$150 for each speedboat passenger. Local villagers later did the same business.
But Cheong Kei later cooperated with several other companies to provide the same service and tried to lure customers with fares ranging from HK110 to HK$130, Apple Daily reports.
The undercutting practice angered the villagers, prompting their chief to fence off the beach by putting fish nets 300 meters off the shore.
Cheong Kei’s owner, a woman surnamed Cheong, denied that her company had damaged the fishnets.
Meanwhile, she took issue with the practice of erecting a barricade along the coast, arguing that putting up such fishnets can endanger the safety of swimmers.
Apple Daily notes that the quarrel was not surprising, given that speedboat business has become a very lucrative operation as Tai Long Sai Wan has been a favorite recreational spot for many people.
A boat with 20 passengers can rake in HK$2,400 for each trip at the fare of HK$120 per person, and a service provider can easily make more than HK$20,000 a day.
Following the latest incident, the police have listed the case as one involving criminal damage. However, no one has been arrested.
The Transport Department, meanwhile, said it will ask related authorities to follow up on any suspected illegal speedboat services in the area.
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