Face Off: Should Hong Kong implement a cross-border driving plan?


Each week our two teenagers debate a hot topic. This week ...


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Yuen Hui-ling, 16, Diocesan Girls' School (Negative)

Traffic congestion is every driver's worst nightmare. The blaring red lights, constant honks of impatient vehicles, precious time ticking away. And with such a high population density, Hong Kong's roads are jam-packed 24-7.

Just think about what an extra 50 cars per day would do.

The government is obviously biting off more than it can chew when it comes to the cross-border driving plan. It intensifies existing problems, and creates new ones. Bottom-line: it's not worth our time.

Under the new driving plan, the average car flow would increase to an extra 350 cars per day (that is, 50 cars per day, with a seven-day permit). Just imagine the rush hours. Not to mention the additional carbon emissions. Nature won't stand the extra blow.

The fact is there's no urgency or substantial need for this plan. Cross-border licence plates have been available by application for years, and the cross-border plan could prove redundant. Roads have never been a popular method of transport. Cross-border buses are cheaper and better suited to extended families.

The difference between local road rules and driving habits across the border is also problematic. A driving licence is certainly insufficient proof of a driver's adaptability. Some say inter-country road trips are common in Europe. But the continent's vehicle transport system grew at a steady rate, so it was much easier to implement cross-border driving plans. The situation is very different here.

The cross-border scheme aims to foster goodwill, but it needs more thought. Otherwise, the consequences could be terrible. We need to face the reality - the plan just isn't worth the trouble.

Helen Wong Ling-oi, 13, St Stephen's Girls' College (Affirmative)

In this era of globalisation, every government is trying to make the world smaller by building communication links between countries. Recently the mainland and Hong Kong authorities have been considering a cross-border driving plan.

I think this plan would help our economy. Many new designer brand outlets, such as Louis Vuitton, have opened in Hong Kong lately, and I think the plan to allow mainlanders to drive into Hong Kong would attract more shoppers who are looking for reputable stores and non-counterfeit goods. We need to do this to stay ahead of mainland cities such as Shanghai.

Not only would this driving scheme boost our economy, it would also offer some outlets for relaxation. Some people say Hongkongers rarely have time to travel overseas to take a break from work. Under this new system, we can easily leave Hong Kong with our families. So this scheme would give us time to interact and strengthen family bonds.

Most importantly, this policy enhances efficiency and is very convenient for locals. It often takes a long time to cross the border using public transport, while it is much faster to travel in private cars.

Despite fears that mainland drivers might cause accidents, let's remember many accidents are caused by irresponsible local drivers, who drive dangerously or are drunk.

We have laws to protect us, and if mainland drivers want to drive in Hong Kong, they have to abide by our laws. Hence, as far as I am concerned, those opposing this scheme have greatly exaggerated its negative aspects.