The Hong Kong MTR Corporation has asked protesters to stop damaging station and railroad facilities, saying such actions could cripple further services and pose a great danger to passenger safety.
The director of operations, Adi Lau, said during a press conference that the railroad company had faced “unprecedented challenges” since anti-extradition protests broke out in June, with more than 120 stations damaged.
He said several stations ran out of backup equipment, making it difficult to make repairs. As a result, passengers must wait a long time to buy tickets or pass turnstiles.
“The most worrying part is that we can see from the recent incidents, that the amount of damaged equipment has increased. And what is even more worrying is that protesters threw petrol bombs at our MTR station and depot. And setting fire to the entrance of our station and throwing objects at rails and airways … this action could seriously endanger the safety of our passengers and staff,” he said.
MTR has needed to temporarily close some stations, for the future of Hong Kong city public services.
He stressed the decision was made after a risk assessment and thorough discussion with government departments, with the safety and well-being of staff and passengers priority.
“Our mission is to provide safe and reliable services to Hong Kong customers, passengers and people. And most importantly, we must protect the safety of our passengers and staff during such protests and the results of the risk assessment tell us that we must take action, including closing some of our stations,” he said.
Train operators have been the main targets of vandalism and anarchism.
Series of Destruction of Public Facilities by Demonstrators
A number of people who were part of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protest movement staged actions at several Hong Kong MTR stations during rush hour, Monday 2 September 2019 morning local time.
Wearing their distinctive black, rioters stood in the doorway of the train, and staged a series of actions at subway stations on Monday morning.
The protest caused huge delays to the entire MTR network citywide.
The day before the protesters blocked roads and public transportation networks to the airport, in an effort to attract the attention of the world.
Airport authorities said 25 flights were canceled on Sunday but transportation services had largely returned to normal.
After leaving the airport, demonstrators then targeted the MTR station in the nearby Tung Chung district, tearing open the turnstiles and destroying cameras and CCTV lights with metal poles. The police entered and made several arrests of rioters.
They had also previously advertised in newspapers and distributed online invitations targeting the MTR metro system and cross-port tunnels.
MTR Corporation Operations Chief Alan Cheung Kwan-hing said that disruptions were recorded on 20 trains, which delayed service by as many as 20 minutes. Of these, 18 trains were blocked owing to tampering with their doors. In one disturbance, a demonstrator sat and stuck his right leg out of the door so that the train would not be able to continue.
They pressed emergency call buttons 10 times. A train door was also found slightly open in the middle of the trip to Tiu Keng Leng.
Cheung said the MTR had increased the number of staff at its stations and control centers.
On the train, a passenger is seen lying on the floor and assisted by paramedics.
Some passengers were annoyed, urging demonstrators not to interfere with their commute to work.
Material Losses of the MTR
Hong Kong train operators have paid a high price after being targeted by rioters.
Francis Lun Sheung-nim, chief executive of Geo Securities Ltd., said on Tuesday he would give a “sell” rating to MTR shares.
“Vandalism is widespread. That must be tens of millions because the engine is quite expensive, “said Lun. “I would say in the last few weeks, MTR has suffered damage of HK $ 50 million.”
During the demonstrators’ actions, the MTR Corporation experienced service disruptions, stations were damaged and the company image has been tarnished. Over the weekend, 39 train stations, or more than 40 percent of the stations in Hong Kong, reported severe damage.
This includes destroyed CCTV cameras, ticket machines, glass doors, turnstiles and station control rooms. Protesters allegedly also looted fire extinguishers and vandalized the stations.
MTR Hong Kong is one of the world’s most efficient and modern mass rapid transit systems, particularly in terms of comfort and accessibility.
MTR also consistently maintains timeliness of 99.9%.
Seeing how strategic the position of the MTR is for the sustainability of the activities of Hong Kong is as a whole and its economic importance, it is essential to question whether the rioters targeting of it is not about more than simply MTR’s alleged support for the SAR’s government. Rather, targeting the MTR should be seen as targeting Hong Kong’s society, its citizens and people, in an effort to drive them away from the government and call for greater action.
Rioters no longer care about the safety of innocent passengers as evidenced by their reckless actions.
They continue to seek the attention of the world, by destroying their city’s transport system which has become a source of pride for its residents.
These actions are those of racketeers, seeking to press the city and its citizens to bend to their will, or else, and not of democracy activists interested in bettering the lives of their compatriots.