HONG KONG, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) — After days of closure, Central Station of Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) system was reopened on Thursday, but traces of violent sabotage were still there.
The iron railings rioters removed from roadside to block the station’s exits were piled on both sides of the gates, the smashed glass of the station was only covered by a foam board, the surveillance cameras that had been taken apart hung down from the ceiling, while the broadcasting repeated reminders that MTR system had been severely damaged and some stations may be closed at any time due to the damage.
A MTR staff told Xinhua that the shortage of equipment to replace those damaged facilities began about one month ago, and to maintain the basic services of some stations with high traffic, MTR had to removed equipment from other less-visited stations for replacement.
“We’ve done this for a while, but there are fewer and fewer stations free from damages as radical protesters grow more barbaric,” he said.
Hours after the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government announced on Oct. 4 an anti-mask regulation with an aim of curbing the violence by masked radicals, MTR system fell one of the major victims of escalated violence and vandalism by rioters.
The rioters wantonly smashed facilities and set fires at multiple MTR stations, left about 1,200 turnstiles, 800 ticket vending machines, 900 CCTV cameras, 40 lifts and 70 entrance rolling gates damaged, according to the MTR Corporation.
The corporation’s chief executive officer Jacob Kam described Oct. 4 as “the most devastating day” in history of the railway.
Kam said MTR had been striving to “keep Hong Kong moving,” which is also the mission of the company, but for the safety of passengers and the staff, MTR had no choice but to suspend the service of the entire network, including heavy rail, light rail, and shuttle bus.
Due to massive destruction, MTR continued its suspension of its services after Oct. 4. Most stations were closed in the following days, while the rest which were open also had to be closed at around 8 p.m., much earlier than usual operation time.
The suspension of service of MTR, Hong Kong’s traffic lifeline that carries nearly 6 million passengers every day, caused great inconvenience for Hong Kong residents.
During the evening rush hour over the past days, long queues of hundreds of people could be seen at various bus stops on both sides of the Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay, a busy downtown area on Hong Kong Island. Many people who used to commute by metro train had to join the queues waiting for buses.
A Hong Kong resident surnamed Wong, whose office is in the nearby Happy Valley area, told Xinhua it usually takes half an hour for her to get home in Mong Kok from her workplace by MTR, but these days she had to spend twice more time waiting for buses and putting up with traffic jams due to the suspension of MTR service.
“My life’s completely messed up,” she complained.
Lee Chun-cheung, who lives in Islands District and works in Central District, likened the consequence of the rioters’ acts to “imposing a curfew” in Hong Kong.
With MTR closed much earlier than usual, Lee and his colleagues had to cancel all after-work social events because “everyone is worried about how to go home when MTR is out of service,” he said.