Typhoon Mangkhut transport chaos could have been avoided, if Carrie Lam had been proactive
I am writing in response to the article, “Storm is not over for Carrie Lam as traffic complaints flood Facebook page” (September 17). Hong Kong internet users flooded Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s social media page with angry comments over traffic disruptions, as they had to go back to work a day after Typhoon Mangkhut battered the city.
The signal No 10 typhoon, which packed sustained winds of 250km per hour, was the strongest storm to hit the city since 1946, and the damage has been officially labelled as “serious and extensive”, with flooded neighbourhoods, uprooted trees, seaside benches and bricks dislodged, more than 600 sections of road blocked by fallen trees, branches and other debris, MTR overhead lines knocked out, power and water supply disrupted, and hundreds of broken windows leaving the streets strewn with shattered glass.
All this combined to cause immense transport chaos. Yet, workers still had to overcome these hurdles and go to work. With buses and taxis mostly off the road, commuters had to depend on the MTR, leading to chaotic scenes, especially on the East Rail Line.
The chief executive issued a statement on Sunday, calling “for employers to show understanding and flexibility in handling staff who have practical difficulties in resuming work”. But there was no clear instruction for employers to suspend non-essential work. Civil servants even said that they received internal emails with instructions as late as 3pm on Monday.
I am disappointed at the government’s handling of the situation. While the government may have no right to force employers to give staff a day off, it has a responsibility to take action in the public interest. It could have held discussions with the Employers’ Federation of Hong Kong and other bodies on whether a holiday should be declared. It is hoped that the government can learn from this experience.
Haley Yu, Tseung Kwan O