Travel after Hong Kong typhoon a work in progress

In the wake of traffic and MTR chaos, many people said they should have been allowed to stay home, but surely that decision rests with their bosses

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 September, 2018, 7:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 September, 2018, 10:19pm

Forgive me if I am not too sympathetic to those who had to work the day after a monster storm left the city.

Unlike most workers, the standard contract for reporters usually stipulates we have to work even under typhoon signal No 10.

The unspoken understanding is that you are especially expected to come to work during the worst typhoon hits, emergencies and disasters.

The perk of the job is that we can usually take the next day off after reporting on a disaster or a typhoon hit. So, yes, some of us do skip the long queues in the MTR, or waiting for buses that never come.

But for others in more fortunate lines of work, travel times to work may have doubled. Many roads were blocked by debris and toppled trees. Some traffic lights were out and bus services greatly reduced. But despite some injuries, we have avoided fatalities. We should be thankful.

Should your boss have let you stay home on Monday? That’s a decision between you and your boss. When there is no typhoon signal, I am not sure it’s the government’s job to make such decisions for you. Both of you are responsible adults.

For students, though, that’s different. It made sense for the Education Bureau to keep schools and kindergartens closed on Monday, while most universities and the Vocational Training Council suspended classes.

Thousands of angry comments over traffic disruptions flooded the government website, especially the social media page of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. 

Many people complained the government should have called Monday off. But that’s what happens immediately after a bad typhoon hits: traffic is disrupted, and it takes time for things to return to normal.

Still, hundreds of aspiring homebuyers rushed to Sham Shui Po to snap up flats at a new private development.

If people can queue to buy property, they can go to work.

City University political science lecturer Ray Yep Kin-man said: “Officials should know that it would be impossible for a lot of people to go to work … If the government had taken the lead, a lot of companies would choose to rest, too.”

Bosses and senior executives are there to make executive decisions. Are they not capable of deciding or compromising by allowing workers a day off, more time to travel, or to work from home?

I am sure some bosses are, shall we say, holes in the posterior. But that’s life. It’s not fair.