Construction on the Hong Kong portion of the Guangzhou-Hong Kong express rail link (“the link”) stands at around 85% and is slated for completion in the 3rd quarter of 2018. The DAB held a survey from April 12-18th in order to understand how Hong Kong residents feel about the co-location arrangements. There were 579 valid responses, and the results are as follows:
1.Nearly 80% of respondents have traveled to the Mainland in the past year.
2.Around 63 % of respondents approve of the express rail link and “co-location”, and feel that this will speed up travel and customs procedures.
3.64% of respondents support the construction of the express rail link, of whom 86% of those who support the link also support “co-location” arrangements.
4.Once the express rail link opens, 56% of respondents said that they would take this train to travel to the Mainland.
5.Almost 71% of respondents have crossed the border at Shenzhen Bay, and 70% of those who have done so approve of “co-location” arrangements.
The DAB therefore recommends the following measures in light of the survey results:
Speed up the discussions on the “co-location” arrangements
The DAB feels that the bureau should quickly implement the “co-location” arrangements, and strengthen the communication with various bureaus on the Mainland in order to simplify border control, inspection, law enforcement and quarantine procedures on the Mainland side, seek a method of operation that will play to the strengths of a quick and convenient system of border control.
Advertise to residents the benefits of the express rail link
The main reason that residents opposed the rail link was its expense. We therefore suggest that the bureau responsible should explain the economic, social and other benefits that the rail link will bring to Hong Kong. The bureau should emphasize the convenience and business opportunities that come with the rail link, and this will be the rail link’s largest contribution and benefit to Hong Kong.
Educate residents about the reality of “co-location” arrangements
We propose that the bureau responsible for implementing “co-location” arrangements should strengthen its messaging on the benefits that this brings. They should set up a “model” of the “co-location” arrangements in order to allow Hong Kong residents to personally experience “co-location” customs and inspection by themselves. This will allow them to understand its benefits, and then “co-location” will receive the support of residents.
The “co-location” arrangements must follow the Basic Law
Respondents to our survey who opposed the implementation of “co-location” arrangements mainly felt worried that law enforcement from the Mainland will come to Hong Kong and therefore contravene “One Country, Two Systems”. We strongly urge the bureau responsible to explain to Hong Kong residents that any such “co-location” arrangements in Hong Kong must strictly follow the Basic Law. Also explain that any such work will have to be debated in Legco, thus helping ease the worries of Hong Kong residents.
Set Fares at an Attractive and Affordable level
We hope that the bureau responsible will set up an attractive fare on top of the speed and comfort that rail link will provide travelers. This will attract more people to take the rail link and improve its efficiency.