Parallel trading

MTR weight rule is not working

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 October, 2012, 1:22am


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I refer to the letter by Kendrew Wong, of the MTR Corporation ("Big-bag curbs trial still being weighed", October 20). There is no need to have a trial and wait three months to see how effective the new baggage limits are, as they are not working.

It didn't take the parallel traders long to devise methods to bypass the MTR's weight restrictions. The East Rail freight line is now back in business.

Traders now use backpacks probably weighing up to 30kg. One trader takes the trolley over that meets the weight restriction while the other struggles along carrying the goods in several backpacks and small suitcases. These are then unpacked on the bridge leading to mainland immigration and customs, where no weight or size restrictions are imposed.

The result is that the unpacking and repacking takes place on MTR trains and on this transit bridge. Besides the inconvenience to others on the train and on the bridge, repacking makes the crossing crowded and dangerous for small children.

The problem remains unsolvable, as the financial motivation is high for traders. They will easily outwit border officials until these officials become smarter and work with their mainland counterparts.

I have witnessed a dramatic increase in vans waiting to load up goods on the Shenzhen side. The whole activity now seems better organised, with more traders.

If the MTR is sincere in its desire to provide a comfortable and safe travelling environment for passengers, it must tackle the problem directly.

The danger of injury to children and passengers results from the trolley pushers wanting to get to the front three carriages so when they alight they can get across the border as quickly as possible and return for the next load. Many trolleys are metal-framed, with sharp edges that can do severe damage.

The MTR must look at what is occurring and develop creative solutions. It should designate the first three carriages for those with hand luggage only and ban trolleys and wheeled suitcases from them. This will allow students, non-traders, tourists and businesspeople to arrive at the immigration hall before it is filled with freight being delivered by traders.

Of course the traders will use backpacks to get into the front carriages but they will find running more difficult with a 60kg pack. Also, the dangers of the battering rams on wheels will be eliminated, as they will not be able to run with the other passengers leaving the first three carriages.

Thomas Beckett, Tai Po