Taxi drivers picking up fares at the Barrier Gate taxi rank Tuesday morning when storm warning signal No. 8 remained hoisted due to Typhoon Kalmaegi [Seagull] tried to rip off passengers by demanding several hundred patacas per trip.
With the suspension of all public bus services when the No. 8 signal is up, people have no choice but to get taxis as they are the only public transport around.
Cabbies once again took advantage of the predicament by charging passengers fares as high as 500 patacas for rides within the Macau peninsula and 1,000 patacas for trips from the peninsula to Cotai.
Transport Bureau (DSAT) officials were called in trying to stop cab drivers from ripping off passengers, many of them mainlanders unaware of the fact that Macau’s public bus services are halted when signal No. 8 is hoisted.
According to the bureau, there were 27 officially reported cases of taxi drivers overcharging passengers or refusing to pick them up. Observers said that there were possibly hundreds of such cases.
Meanwhile, the Civil Protection Operation Centre said that during the 11-hour-and-45-minute hoisting of the No. 8 signal, it received 87 reports ranging from traffic accidents to swinging shop signs and unstable scaffolding at construction sites. Six people were slightly injured.
In addition, there was flooding in the Inner Harbour area with water levels reaching 0.70 metres in some places. Parts of Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro were also flooded by the storm surge.
A car stalled in the floodwater, trapping the driver inside in Rua do Visconde Paço de Arcos outside the multi-storey car park. Two firemen came to the rescue by opening the door and leading the female driver to higher ground.
Some shop owners returned to their shops during the typhoon to sandbag the fronts of their premises. An electronics shop owner in Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, surnamed Chan, said that some of his products had been soaked and he was not sure how much the floods had cost him.
Meanwhile, according to the local airport management, 16 flights were cancelled and 41 were delayed due to Typhoon Kalmaegi. Hundreds of travellers were stuck at the airport as they waited for their flights. They were given free snacks and beverages by airport staff.
In addition, according to the Marine and Water Affairs Bureau (DSAMA), about 300 people waited at the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal for ferry services to be resumed.
The No. 8 signal was lowered to No. 3 at 1 p.m. Tuesday and ferry services restarted 30 minutes later. The bureau added that most travellers had left the ferry terminal within an hour.
All typhoon signals were lowered at 1 a.m. Tuesday night.
The Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) said in a statement that 245 trees were damaged when Typhoon Kalmaegi struck the city. It added that bureau officials had removed 35 fallen trees.
The IACM statement also said that Macau Residue System Co. Ltd. (CSR) workers began cleaning the streets soon after the No. 8 signal was down.
All schools remained closed y but the city’s vitally important gaming industry continued operating round-the-clock as usual.
It was Macau’s first No. 8 signal this year.(macaunews/macaupost)