Foreign travellers who yesterday returned to Hong Kong via the Lowu border checkpoint welcomed a move by Shenzhen authorities to speed up their passage through immigration. They said their waiting times had been slashed to between two and 10 minutes instead of the 30 minutes to two hours it took before. The Shenzhen authorities have set up three special lanes for Hong Kong-bound foreign passport-holders and two for mainland-bound visitors in an attempt to reduce the waiting times. In the past, foreign passport-holders had to share a lane with mainland and Taiwanese visitors. The new measure, introduced three days ago, may be extended to other Hong Kong border checkpoints if successful. 'I went through immigration in about 10 minutes,' said paint manufacturer Gareth Crapper, from Britain. 'Often [in the past] we had to queue up with Taiwan visitors for a long time. The most I've experienced was two hours,' he said. However, his companion Liz Reed said the mainland immigration authorities still lacked flexibility. 'I wonder why they didn't make use of the diplomatic counter since hardly anyone there is using it,' she said. However, she admitted waiting times yesterday had been greatly reduced. American visitor Allan Wollheim, who returned yesterday after a two-day visit to Shenzhen, said last week he had to wait for up to two hours. 'It was a lot quicker today with a special lane for foreign visitors. It took me under 10 minutes. I'm all for it,' he said. Import and export businessman Kirty Kumar, from India, said from now he would be using the Lowu checkpoint instead of taking the bus because it only took him two minutes to clear through immigration yesterday. Foreign business chambers in Hong Kong welcomed the new arrangements as a boost for the SAR as a place to do business. Hong Kong officials also hailed the change. The new arrangements followed Guangdong Governor Lu Ruihua's apology last week to a group of foreign businessmen for the delay at Lowu. Responding to a complaint from a Korean businessman, Mr Lu said at a luncheon hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce: 'Sorry, sorry, we will take measures to improve the situation.' The latest development also follows reports in the Post highlighting complaints about long delays on the mainland side of the border.