A bus driver who refused to board a cross-border passenger with a suspected cargo of parallel imports is being hailed as a hero in Hong Kong after a photo of the incident surfaced on Facebook.
It has inspired more than 43,000 likes and more than 1,000 comments in three days, Hong Kong Economc Times reported Monday.
The passenger was thought to be bringing the goods out of Hong Kong into the mainland where these are either not available, or if they are, very expensive.
Such activity is rampant on the bus route between the railway station in Tin Shui Wai district and the Lok Ma Chau spur line.
In this case, the bus driver barred a passenger who had six boxes, saying “this is a bus, not a lorry”.
A local netizen named Isis took a picture and posted it on Facebook. It showed other passengers in the queue who could not get aboard because the cargo was in their way.
Cross-border passengers have been exploiting regulatory loopholes to bring goods out of Hong Kong into the mainland despite a recent crackdown on both sides of the border.
The Hong Kong government, for instance, restricts visitors to a certain number of certain items they can bring home.
But that has not stopped the activity from thriving in Hong Kong’s border districts such as Northern New Territories, Tai Po, Yuen Long and Tuen Mun.
A staff union member of Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) Holdings Ltd. said people engaged in this enterprise bring five to six boxes or straw bags with them on the bus while others may take eight to 10.
Such cargo typically includes milk powder, diapers and Yakult, the report said.
A KMB manager, citing company regulations, said anything bigger than 0.1 cubic meter is not allowed on their buses.
“Drivers will have to take responsibility if any such cargo results in injury to any passenger.”
However, KMB said passengers can bring products less than five kilograms or not larger than 0.1 cubic meter if they’re safe and easy to bring, or the driver bars the passenger from getting on, the report said.
Lately, couriers have become bolder and more assertive, sometimes calling out drivers who refuse to board them and taking their complaints to the police.
Cecilia Chan Lai-wan, head of the social work and social administration department of the University of Hong Kong, said the problem has been exacerbated by increased tourist numbers from the mainland on individual visit schemes.
The situation has affected Hong Kong people’s daily lives and has contributed to heightened tensions, the report said.
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