Violent HK protests cause billions in damage

By Zhang Hui and Chen Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/10 20:43:40

Black-clad protesters stormed the Hong Kong International Airport, paralyzing the international hub on Monday. Photo: Zhao Juecheng/GT

Violent protests in Hong Kong in the past three months have led to vandalism of public properties and disruption of transportation, which caused damage estimated at multibillion Hong Kong dollars. 

The Transport Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said about 20,000 meters of railings was damaged, which led to HK$8 million in maintenance costs. The department has spent around HK$150 million, including maintenance of road facilities and police equipment, Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po reported. About 280 sets of traffic lights damaged since June have been repaired, with repair costs estimated at HK$4.2 million. 

During the past weeks, rioters frantically ruined traffic lights, street signs, railings and other road facilities. Major road facilities in Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui have been destroyed repeatedly by mobs.  

The protests at public transportation facilities, including MTR stations and Hong Kong international airport, have not only affected hundreds of thousands of people, but also resulted in huge losses.  

The airport was paralyzed for a day and a half in early August, and air cargo losses were estimated at HK$ 15 billion. 

The Hong Kong MTR Corporation's chairman and CEO jointly issued an open letter to MTR passengers on Sunday, saying violence triggered by protests has resulted in malicious acts at dozens of stations, greatly impacting the daily commute and threatening the safety of frontline staff. 

Meanwhile, the Legislative Council was severely damaged in July and August after protesters stormed it, and repair work would cost over HK$50 million. The building will be repaired by mid-October, Wen Wei Po reported. 

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said at Tuesday's media briefing that damage to the city's infrastructure was severe in the past two or three months, although she didn't provide details.  

Lam said that the government has sufficient funds to repair them, but the most important thing is to stop such damage, and she called on residents to separate themselves from violence. 

Damage to MTR stations has far exceeded opposition to the extradition bill, and escalating violence cannot solve the current social problems, and will only deepen the social divide, Lam said. 

Ho Kai-ming, a lawmaker from the Kwun Tong district council, told the Global Times on Tuesday that smart street lights and other road facilities in his district were damaged, and estimated maintenance would cost at least HK$3 million. 

Ho said the destruction of public facilities has completely deviated from the protesters' original goals of their protests, and their violent displays targeted anyone who supports the rule of law. 

A commentary published on HK01 on Sunday criticized rioters' destruction to public transportation, saying that many cleaners had to work overnight and MTR maintenance staff had to repair the facilities. 

"Are they [cleaners, MTR staff] the targets of the anti-extradition bill protest? For shops that closed early due to the protests, are they also the targets?" the commentary said. 

Newspaper headline: Violent protests cause billions in damage

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