MTR grinds to a halt as protesters make good on threats

Protesters block train doors at Lai King MTR station this morning. Photo by Iris To.
Protesters block train doors at Lai King MTR station this morning. Photo by Iris To.

Pro-democracy protesters made good on their threats to paralyze the city’s transportation this morning, with eight out of 11 MTR lines brought to a standstill by protestors blocking train doors and preventing carriages from moving.

As of around 9:30am, only the South Island Line, Disneyland Resort Line, and Ma On Shan Line remained fully operational as protesters kicked off what has been billed as a citywide strike today meant to keep up pressure on the government after weeks of more conventional protests.

“I heard that there will be a strike today but I wasn’t expecting so many people,” on commuter, surnamed Fong, told Coconuts HK this morning as she waited travel to Tsim Sha Tsui. “This is a bit disturbing, but as long as it is not violent, I think it is a great way to express opinions, since we need to find some way to push the government and the police force to respond.”

Protestors, many in masks, were seen casually leaning or sitting against a series of train doors in Lai King station, some with as many as six people manning one entrance.

“We are here to push the government to respond as soon as possible,” said a 19-year-old student who gave her name as Winnie. “The behaviors of the police over the last few days are definitely an abuse of power.”

“I hope more Hongkongers will realize the absurdities of the police operations, and realize coming out to address the injustice in society is more important than going to work,” she added.

MTR staff told concerned commuters at Lai King that they did not know when the train would start again, and that commuters could leave the station without being charged and take a free shuttle bus to Tsing Yi instead. MTR shuttle buses were available at other affected stations as well.

Meanwhile, scores of flights at Hong Kong International Airport were also cancelled this morning as aviation workers joined in the citywide strike, and reports of blocked roads were also circulating on social media.

At a roadblock in Yuen Long, not far from the site of violent clashes on July 21, a motorist was seen ramming through an impromptu barrier placed across a main thoroughfare.

No word yet on whether anyone was injured in the collision.

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