Cross-border truckers race to beat tougher clampdown

Top News | Sophie Hui 3 Apr 2020

About 10,000 cross-border truck drivers in Hong Kong have rushed to get health certificates ahead of the mainland's tighter restrictions on border traffic from tomorrow.

The Guangdong Shenzhen Customs Brokers Association said that from midnight tomorrow all cross-border drivers from Hong Kong must present a health certificate issued by the SAR government within 14 days before crossing the Shenzhen border check point.

Or they must have a nucleic acid test result for Covid-19 issued by third-party testing bodies within seven days, before entering the mainland.

Zheng Jianrong, head of Guangdong's Department of Commerce, confirmed the health certificate requirement but did not say when it would take effect.

Under the new rules, the SAR government also needs to provide the Shenzhen authorities with a list of cross-border drivers who ship fresh or alive and essential supplies to Hong Kong, the association said.

If the driver is not on the list, he or she has to undergo a 14-day medical observation in Shenzhen.

It also said drivers need to have their temperatures taken, wear masks and declare their health condition when entering the four border checkpoints.

They also have to provide their destination and work arrangements to the mainland customs as well as pass the nucleic acid test for the virus at the mainland customs.

But Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection said it does not issue such health certificate to drivers.

The chairman of the Hong Kong Land Transport Council, Stanley Chiang Chi-wai, said it hoped the SAR government can ask mainland authorities to postpone the new measures for three weeks, so they can have enough time to get the health certificates.

He was speaking after representatives of the association met with the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Frank Chan Fan, yesterday.

"There was no clear reply but Chan said he will try his best to get the date deferred, so we can have more time to get the health certificate," Chiang said.

He also said it will be more convenient for drivers to do the virus test at mainland hospitals, and suggested a list of qualified hospitals in Guangdong be provided to drivers.

"We also need the SAR government to communicate with the mainland authorities on which health-care institutions are approved, as we know that many hospitals can do the virus test and they would not charge much," he said.

It was difficult for them to do the virus test in Hong Kong as the medical pressure was heavy and the government might not be able to help the 10,000 truck drivers for testing.

Chiang also said most drivers took the coronavirus test at the border last Friday. It was valid for 14 days so they could still enter the mainland even if the new measures were enforced tomorrow.

He warned that if cross-border drivers cannot transport goods, it would affect food and other supplies in Hong Kong.

"If this problem cannot be solved as soon as possible and goods trucks cannot get through the mainland border, there will be a serious consequences," he said.

"Fresh vegetables and meat are all imported from the mainland," he said.

Meanwhile, a government spokesman said yesterday that the operating hours of the passenger clearance services at the Shenzhen Bay Port will be shortened to 10am to 8pm from today until further notice, but the operating hours for cargo clearance will remain unchanged.

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