Market food rots as shipments slow in strike

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 April, 2013, 4:29am

Concern grew yesterday among logistics businesses and shoppers over a strike at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals, amid slowing goods shipments.

While container truck drivers reported that waiting times had as much as tripled, fruit sellers said a growing amount of Southeast Asian produce was rotten by the time it reached the markets.

"We want this to be resolved as soon as possible. We're really concerned," former Logistics Association president Anthony Wong Foo-wah said.

"If everything worsens, if everybody does not give way, it will make things worse. In negotiations, everyone must give up something."

Wong said he believed the strike could damage the city's reputation.

He said current association president Stephen Cheng Wui-yau and another former president, Stephen Chan, had shared this view when they met up three days ago.

The three parties involved in the Kwai Tsing walkout, which started on Thursday over a pay dispute, are the striking workers, the contractors who employ them and terminal operator Hongkong International Terminals, controlled by Li Ka-shing, the city's richest man.

"Some politicians may hijack this event to make it worse, not try to solve it," Wong said. "That's my biggest worry."

Meanwhile, wholesalers were worried that fruit transported to Hong Kong by sea was at greater risk of rotting.

"The unloading of the containers has been slower, so more fruits have turned bad," Kowloon Fruit and Vegetable Merchants Association vice-chairman Cheung Chi-cheung said. "Ten to 15 per cent more fruits are rotten compared to the normal situation."

The problem was especially serious with Southeast Asian fruit, he said.

A fruit vendor interviewed on television said there was usually no need to unpack fruit when buying at the market, but now shoppers must do so to ensure the products were not rotten.

Truck drivers agreed that the waiting time for them to pick up cargo had been prolonged.

"The waiting time has tripled. It used to take only an hour or so," one driver said.

Another said his waiting time had doubled and it could get longer from today after the Easter holiday ended.