Traffic jams return as tunnel reopens

Top News | Charlotte Luo 28 Nov 2019

Traffic jams appeared as usual when the Cross Harbour Tunnel reopened after a two-week shutdown due to clashes.

All four lanes of the tunnel opened at 5am yesterday as riot police stood on guard.

Plastic barriers and nets were put up at pedestrian bridges to prevent objects being thrown onto the lanes.

Cross-harbor bus services returned to normal after two weeks of diversions that forced drivers to use the two other harbor crossings. But the morning saw fewer passengers and buses were seen waiting for commuters.

A passenger working in Causeway Bay said it took her 30 minutes longer to get to work from Tai Wai when the tunnel was closed. "But on the first day [of reopening]" I felt the air here was not clean," she said.

Another passenger heading to Fortress Hill from Sha Tin was making her transfer to another bus at Hung Hom. She said "the smell is really bad. I put my face mask on immediately."

The electronic payment system has not been completely repaired so motorists cannot use credit cards to pay for the tolls, but they can use Octopus cards.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said tunnel users would have to pay tolls because the damaged booths had been repaired. He also said it took 800 workers around 100 hours to repair the tunnel.

A resident said he worried that there would be traffic jams yesterday, so he left home early to catch the bus.

Pro-establishment lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chuen urged the government to consider alternative cross-harbor options, including the construction of a fourth tunnel.

Tse said people paid more in transportation costs during the time the tunnel was closed, so the government should compensate them by cutting public transport fees by half for the next three months.

The free ferry services between Hung Hom or Kowloon City and Wan Chai will end tomorrow evening.

Pro-establishment legislator Ben Chan Han-pan called on the government to continue running the two free ferry lines, which helped residents during the shutdown.

Chan said the government should also add a regular route between Tsuen Wan and Central, allowing residents to have an alternative mode of transport.

The tunnel had been closed since November 13 after radical protesters torched it and set up roadblocks during clashes with police.

charlotte.luo@singtaonewscorp.com

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