More than 50 disappointed hikers were stranded on Ap Lei Pai and forced to double back on the steep hill yesterday after unlicensed water taxi services were suspended following a two-boat collision on Saturday.
Authorities have stepped up patrol against unlicensed boat services ferrying people from Ap Lei Pai to Aberdeen after the incident.
The two unlicensed water taxis clashed as they fought for customers, resulting in a meter-long crack in one of the boats.
Online videos showed a red-topped vessel continually ramming into the blue-topped vessel, which almost overturned.
Police received a report that two water taxis collided at Ap Lei Pai due to strong wind at noon on Saturday. No one was hurt in the incident.
Marine Department officers and marine police patrolled Ap Lei Pai yesterday.
The red-topped vessel involved was seen wandering out at sea and did not pick up any customers. Marine police later approached it for investigation. The blue-topped vessel was parked at Ap Lei Chau, awaiting maintenance.
Due to the suspension of water taxi services, around 50 hikers walking from Mount Johnston were left stranded at Ap Lei Pai and had to wait more than an hour for water taxis. Some eventually chose to return to Ap Lei Chau via the same route they had come.
Some hikers complained they were unable to walk back because they did not have enough food and were already too exhausted. They suggested the government introduce policies to replace the unlicensed water taxis.
"If they are trying to regulate unlicensed boats, shouldn't they promote it and tell the hikers not to use these services, instead of suddenly having two guard boats prevent us from boarding?" a hiker surnamed Kwong said.
She said the government should have the safety of hikers as their prime concern and issue licenses to water taxis.
Some boat owners in the area said the red-topped vessel was "the king of the sea" as it has dominated traffic between Aberdeen Pier and Ap Lei Pai for many years. However, in the past few years, other water taxis had joined in the competition, which sparked the fight.
The boat owners added that these unlicensed water taxis were dangerous as they were often overloaded.