Hong Kong's distribution services and logistics disrupted by 'Occupy'
Updated: 2014-10-01 07:41
By Gladdy Chu and Sophia Luo in Hong Kong(HK Edition)
Protesters' "Occupy" activity leads to traffic blockade in Causeway Bay on Tuesday. Public transportation is thrown into chaos as more than 200 bus routes had to be suspended or rerouted. Roy Liu / China Daily
The clock work efficiency and smooth running of Hong Kong's retail and food industries depend largely on its logistics and distribution services, which work behind the scenes outside the normal business working hours when shops and restaurants are closed.
But since Sunday when the Occupy Central protesters blockaded areas in Central, Admiralty, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok, the delivery vans and trucks that used to arrive promptly after shops closed to replenish retailers goods and the food and drinks for restaurants started to suffer delays.
"Food vans (which) used to arrive between 8 am to 9 am in the past, reached half an hour later today," Ah Yuen, lobby manager of Green River Restaurant which is located opposite to Langham Place, said.
The situation was similar for Guangdong Barbecue Restaurant which is located at the cross roads of Argyle Street and Reclamation Street. "Of course the routine food supplies arrive a bit later these days," a restaurant manager said, adding that even though, the restaurant had to open before 6:30 am.
Although the logistics and distribution services were impacted, on the surface of it, the delays did not seem to affect the restaurant much since the consumption had declined sharply, which was the restaurant owner's biggest concern.
"Our business (has) reduced by about one-third during the peak period," Yuen said. The Guangdong Barbecue Restaurant lost about 7,000 to 8,000 consumers from 12:00 am to 3:00 pm per day, hitting hard on the restaurant's bottom-line, according to the hall manager.
The flower shop businesses, known as the Hong Kong flower market near Prince Edward station, at Sai Yee Street had also been hit rather badly by the "Occupy" protest, causing huge losses.
According to Ms Ze, storekeeper of Mountain City Plant Co at Sai Yee Street who runs the business of potted plants in the area, the vans that transported the plants were also delayed arriving at over 12:00 am on Tuesday. Usually, they reach the area for distribution between 9:00 am to 10:00 am.
"Our business has been badly affected by the protest. The protesters are making Hong Kong fall into chaos and my income has declined close to nil," Ms Ze said.
While some businesses have been hurt by the protesters' disruption, other businesses like flower shops that have warehouse nearby or opened early in the morning did not worry much about the logistics.
"Our shop opens before 6:30 am," the shopkeeper of JiaJia, another flower shop in Sai Yee Street, said, "though the goods van arrived a little bit later, there's no problem with the daily supply. As you (can) see, no people pass by, let alone come in and buy some flowers," she added.
Merlinder Ltd, another flower shop that has its own warehouse near Sai Yee Street, also did not suffer from any logistics problem.
However, the scenarios faced by the express industry were much serious.
Customer service staff of FedEx hesitated to accept delivery orders if destinations were in the Causeway Bay, Admiralty and Central areas.
"Our delivery vans can hardly go to Causeway Bay since major roads leading there are blocked," said FedEx. "It is hard to know how many days the delivery will be delayed. We can only wait to see when the (traffic using the) roads will be resumed, permanently or temporarily, and seize the chance to get in."
Compared with waiting for the items to be dispatched, FedEx suggested receivers in these regions to collect their parcels from drop-off locations.
"The adverse effect of 'Occupy Central' on our delivery services will continue to be vividly felt," the staffer of FedEx added.
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(HK Edition 10/01/2014 page5)