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Strict rules forced many drivers out of work: union

2022-03-28 HKT 15:11
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  • Strict rules forced many drivers out of work: union
A truck drivers’ union has called on mainland and SAR authorities to consider relaxing epidemic control measures on the delivery of goods across the border, saying the current rules have put around 90 percent of cross-border truck drivers out of work.

After Shenzhen imposed more stringent measures earlier this month to ward off the coronavirus, Hong Kong drivers were barred from heading directly to mainland destinations to pick up consignments.

Instead, around 1,000 of them are now allowed to head to border connection points to hand over their trucks to mainland shuttle drivers, who pick up goods on their behalf.

The chairman of the Container Transportation Employees General Union, Chan Dik-sau, said the restrictions mean the majority of cross-border drivers are now out of work.

He called on authorities to scrap the measures and allow drivers to head directly into the mainland to pick up items, saying most of them are willing to adhere to stringent Covid-prevention measures.

"Over 90 percent of cross-border truck drivers wish to be allowed to go directly to destinations in the mainland. We will follow precautionary measures, such as the closed-loop management. Drivers will stay in their trucks before arriving at their destinations. The whole process won't involve any person-to-person contact," Chan said.

Lawmaker Michael Luk from the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) said the SAR government should also consider providing isolation facilities for cross-border drivers to minimise their infection risk.

"We have to ensure that cross-border drivers are also in a closed-loop environment even when they are in Hong Kong ... Such measures can strike a balance between ensuring sufficient supply of fresh food from the mainland, securing a job for drivers and meeting the requirements of the mainland."

FTU chairman Kingsley Wong, meanwhile, said the government should provide alternative job opportunities for drivers affected by the latest restrictions.

In response, the Transport and Housing Bureau said it understood the difficulties faced by cross-border truck drivers, adding it had conveyed their concerns to mainland authorities. It said it will continue to discuss with relevant mainland departments to see if a closed-loop arrangement could be adopted for drivers in order to reduce the risk of infection.

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Last updated: 2022-03-28 HKT 22:09