UNSCRUPULOUS Hong Kong truck drivers are paying millions of dollars in bribes to mainland police and civilians to avoid border traffic jams, the South China Morning Post can reveal. An underground organisation known to truckers as the 'Jump The Queue Club' is active at the two busiest border crossings, Lok Ma Chau and Man Kam To. Truckers paid a monthly 'membership fee' of $1,200 to $3,000 to jump queues which would otherwise leave them stranded at the border for at least two hours. Once the fee is paid, members are given confidential codes so the organisation can differentiate between them and 'non-members'. Other benefits include protection from fines and the confiscation of driving permits for breaking traffic rules. Truck drivers caught queue-jumping would normally be fined 500 yuan (HK$466) and have their driving licence suspended for five months. 'No one wants to spend six hours in a queue every day,' said Woo Chi-chun, 42, a former truck driver with 15 years cross-border driving experience. 'If paying this money can help save time and the trouble of queuing, no matter whether it is $3,000 or $5,000, people will pay because they can recoup the money as a result of the 'smoother' traffic and better returns. 'Each member has an individual code . . . ranging from names of film stars to brand names of electric appliances and food. And the radio frequency changes often to avoid outsiders' attention,' Mr Woo said. More than 23,000 locally registered trucks ply their trade back and forth across the Hong Kong-China border. Each day, 12,000 pass through the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint, 6,000 use Man Kam To, while another 2,000 cross at Sha Tau Kok. The scam has been operating for about two years, but business seems to have boomed in the past eight months as more and more drivers have given in and joined the club rather than be forced to wait longer as corrupt truckers are waved through the checkpoints. 'We did a survey two months ago to discover there were about 70 trucks jumping the queue to get through the Man Kam To checkpoint every hour,' said Leung Kai-wai, secretary of the 1,200-strong Organisation of Hong Kong Drivers. 'There were Public Security Bureau [PSB] officers guarding the queue but they just let them go. 'Sometimes they even stopped the queue to let the others through.' Mr Leung said his organisation had compiled a list of licence plate numbers of vehicles seen queue-jumping and passed it on to the Border Liaison Working Group, which held regular meetings between border authorities and truck drivers' representatives. Some drivers believe the mainland may already be aware of the scam and is clamping down. They say many of the regular PSB officers based at Man Kam To have been replaced, while more officers have been deployed to fine drivers caught flouting traffic regulations near Lok Ma Chau. However, they are convinced the scam will go on. 'This new policy will not solve the problem because it's not purely a matter of breaking traffic rules . . . corruption is at its core,' one driver said. 'It does not matter how harsh the fines and punishments are because 'club members' are still enjoying their immunity.' Legislative Council election candidates have urged a full investigation. Shenzhen border control officials were unavailable for comment yesterday.