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New experiment has to work

FOR an innovation welcomed with such fanfare and enthusiasm only a month ago, the round-the-clock opening of the Lok Ma Chau crossing point has had more than a decent share of teething problems.

Residents on the roads leading to the border complain of much higher levels of sustained noise than the occasional bursts of sound which briefly disturbed the pampered few in the wealthy suburbs around the Hong Kong Stadium. Now truck drivers, angry that the new arrangements have increased daylight waiting times and put them at greater risk at night on China's ill-lit roads, have proposed a midnight-to-7 am closure.

Hong Kong did not get to be the booming business hub of South China by giving up so easily. The complaints of residents certainly deserve attention, as do the moans of the lorry drivers. Roadside sound barriers on the Hong Kong side and better lighting and security in Shenzhen and beyond will be costly. But the economics of night-transport should make it worthwhile for the local authorities on both sides of the border to find more positive solutions than the closure of the checkpoint. If the investment in lighting and policing helps double the overnight traffic from the present, unexpectedly low, 700 trucks a day, it will be money well spent.

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