Date
18 December 2017
Traders with their goods wait for transport to the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint. They are being blamed for congestion that has been squeezing out students who make daily cross-border commutes. Photo: Tun Yu elementary school
Traders with their goods wait for transport to the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint. They are being blamed for congestion that has been squeezing out students who make daily cross-border commutes. Photo: Tun Yu elementary school

Gray traders squeezing pupils out of cross-border minibuses

Chinese parallel traders are causing transport congestion in Yuen Long at the expense of pupils on daily commutes between Hong Kong and mainland China.

In the past month, waiting times for minibuses to the Lok Ma Chau control point have stretched up to two hours from 15 minutes due to heavy passenger traffic.

The congestion is being blamed on an influx of parallel traders bringing goods back across the border, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday.

Elementary school pupils are having to compete for seats with the traders who often jump queues and muscle their way into minibuses.

Tu Yun Elementary School in Yuen Long district has been sending teachers to wait with the pupils in minibus stations, the report said.

Several older students have taken their complaints to the newspaper.

Others have been forced to take a detour by taxi to Sheung Shui, where they change trains to Lok Ma Chau.

A school principal said MTR Corp. should offer half fare to students who travel via Sheung Shui to Lok Ma Chau to get across the border.

Yuen long district councilor Man Chi-sheung said an increasing number of gray goods traders go through Lok Ma Chau after tighter controls were implemented at the Lo Wu checkpoint.

The traders rent warehouses and private homes near the border to stash their goods bought in Hong Kong before bringing them across to mainland China.

The goods range from milk powder, cookies and chocolates to diapers.

They would bring the goods by minibus to Lok Ma Chau around the time the students would be dismissed from class.

Taxi drivers have been doing robust business from increased demand for transport and have been charging up to HK$150 for a five-kilometer journey, Man was quoted as saying.

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TL/AC/RA

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