Overworked tour-bus drivers paid $38 a trip

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 February, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 February, 2002, 12:00am

Coach drivers on some of southern China's most notorious roads are being paid as little as 40 yuan (HK$38) a trip - just over half the fare travellers pay for the journey - and often have to work seven days a week to make ends meet, a Sunday Morning Post investigation has discovered.

After travelling on a coach on the Shenshan Expressway between Shenzhen and Shanwei, a Post team found tired drivers complaining they were only given four days off a month, with many opting to work them because they were paid so little. Drivers also said it was not uncommon for colleagues to drink heavily on the night before a job.

They said they were exhausted when they had to work overtime during the Lunar New Year holidays and complained they could only afford very short breaks - with barely enough time to eat lunch.

Since July 2000, 21 Hong Kong residents have been killed in mainland bus crashes and 117 have been injured, sparking calls for an overhaul of safety provisions. The latest accident took place near the Guangdong coastal city of Lufeng, killing three Hong Kong tourists and injuring 38 on the first day of the Year of the Horse.

The Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong has urged the mainland authority to step up measures to improve road safety.